RJ Mitte, who played Walter White, Jr. in AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” is coming to campus today as part of the University Lecture Series (ULS). Mitte, who shares the condition of cerebral palsy with his character, is expected to speak on following one’s passions despite any obstacles.
Athena Bressack, coordinator for the Center for Student Involvement (CSI), said she expects the talk to be “pretty universal” and apply not only to students with disabilities, but also to all students.
Mitte, whose lecture will be held in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom at 7:30 p.m., is the first ULS guest for the fall. According to Bressack, CSI decided on Mitte in large part because of a student survey, which indicated that students wanted speakers who focused more on social issues.
Bressack said this, combined with a realization that USF has not had a lecture reaching out to students with disabilities in two years, made it the right time to invite Mitte to USF.
The last disabled speaker was Marlee Matlin, a hearing-impaired actress best known for her role in the long-running political drama, “The West Wing.” Matlin spoke at USF in November 2013.
Not unlike Matlin, Mitte has found a way to positively channel his disability into a means of success. His role as Walter White Jr. was meant to help expose more people to the realities of cerebral palsy, according to an interview with Mitte in Ability Magazine.
“While we were looking for the perfect part where I could use my disability to enlighten others, we were also looking for a good job,” he said in Ability Magazine. “And when “Breaking Bad” came up, when I read the script, which was so well-written, I immediately thought, ‘I have to go for this.’”
Mitte is also the star of the upcoming film “Triumph,” which follows a high school student with cerebral palsy who wants to be on the wrestling team and date his dream girl. The independent film will be released at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
The lecture, which is paid by student Activity and Service fees, will cost $18,500.
At the end of his lecture, Mitte will have a brief Q&A with the audience.