Damn You, Genetics - Uncover Ostomy
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Damn You, Genetics

It’s a widely known fact that Crohn’s disease is hereditary.

In my family, it is not only I who has the horrible disease, but my dad’s brother and a cousin of my mom’s who do, as well. It was no surprise, then, when I was diagnosed with the disease some 13 years ago. In reality, my parents and I had kind of already known.

I’ve never really been too fond of my genetics. I mean, sure, I love my family  and everything about them. I also kind of like that I am semi-intelligent and some may also say that I’m kind of witty, all of which I’m sure have come from some of the DNA inside of me. Having Crohn’s, however, is one of those things I just do not like about those chromosomes inside of me.

Well, that and the fact that I look Asian.

Oh yeah, in case you didn’t know – I’m not. At all. Not even a tiny bit.


I’m 100% caucasian. White. Ghostly, in fact.


No matter how white my DNA may be, it has not stopped others from being seriously perplexed by my apparently ambiguous ethnicity. It’s actually quite a common occurrence for me to be asked “what I am.” At the mall. In a restaurant. On a plane – everywhere.

“What are you?”

“Um, hi, my name is Jessica. I’m sorry, have we met?”

Being 23, almost 24 now, I’ve become pretty accustomed to this strange occurrence. I’ve even gotten used to all the Asian jokes my friends and family make about me. It’s become just another one of those things that I get teased about (out of love, of course) so it always just rolls off my back.

Until this past Monday.

Remember how I had that movie callback? It turns out they really liked me and wanted to see me again, for a 3rd time this past Monday.


So on Monday, I got to the audition, same place as the times prior, and walked in to see the producer who happened to be outside of the audition room. He greeted me with a huge smile and said he was extremely glad that I was back.

Double score.

I waited outside the audition room (since I was early) to go over my lines a bit more. The actor who they had already cast to play the male lead, and whom I had read my lines with during the other two auditions, came out to answer a call. Once he finished the call, he came over to me and said that he was also glad I was there and that he was “rooting for me” because he wanted me to get the part.

Alright – now we’re talking.

A few minutes later, I went into the audition room where the producer, the male lead, and the director all were. We exchanged some pleasantries, laughed over a few inside jokes (which, apparently, we had), and I couldn’t have felt better about where this was headed. Then, before I knew it, out of nowhere, it happened:

“So, we were talking, and, well, we all weren’t quite sure what… you… are…”

I jokingly told them that I get asked that all the time, but that I am white – Polish and Eastern Russian, in fact. They were shocked, to say the least. Some more laughs were had and the topic was passed.

I continued on with the audition, not thinking too much of what I had just been asked. According to the director I was delivering exactly what he wanted to see and I was confident in my performance. On the completion of my audition, the producer asked to talk to me outside to explain the movie in more depth. I was really happy with where this was going.

“So here’s the deal..” the producer began.

“We like you, and we think you are by far the best actor we have seen! …. Our only issue, though.. is.. well, is that there’s a character that is supposed to be your sister and we can’t find anyone who’s good enough to play the sister who looks like you…”


“You are by far in the top-tier of all the performers, seriously – the best we’ve seen, we’re just having a small issue here.”

Are you serious?

“Is that why you asked ‘what I was’? ”

“Haha.. yeah. I just want you to know, if you don’t get the part, it has absolutely nothing, at all, to do with your ability. You’re amazing. It’s just trying to match you with someone. We’re not too sure what we’re going to do. But seriously, you’re amazing.”

Oh. My. God. 


Shell-shocked at the end of our conversation, I got up to leave. On my way out, I thanked the producer for considering me for the part, to which he shook my hand strong and firm and gave me a hearty goodbye. He then said they’d make their decision by Monday.

Then I left.

And then I wished I wasn’t so goddamn weird looking.

Just as the with the Crohn’s disease, how I look cannot be changed. My DNA has made me who I am and there’s nothing I can do but accept it – small eyes, diseased intestines, and all.

While it is only Wednesday, and I have a few more days to wait, I remind myself, (every time I jump through the roof when my phone rings), that there are some things you just can’t change. What is important is that you accept who you are and deal with the situations as they arise.

Good thing they have medications for Crohn’s…Now, what do I do about my face?

Jessica Grossman
  • Jackie
    Posted at 00:00h, 13 June Reply

    Easy peasy – Kristin Kreuk from Smallville who played Lana can be your sister 🙂 if that fails then potentially Vanessa Hudgens

  • sukhi
    Posted at 00:02h, 13 June Reply

    I think this confused post should actually be titled “Damn you, racist casting directors”. It’s not bad nor is it funny to look Asian and guess what, your Asian mates, neighbours, colleagues (as well as all of us Others) deal with this plus a lot more all of the freaking time. Is this you’re first taste of it? Well turn your focus to the problem (racism) instead of wanting to change your face. Makes no sense.

    • Heidrun
      Posted at 14:37h, 13 June Reply

      what he/she said.

  • Mark H
    Posted at 00:53h, 13 June Reply

    Why does your “sister” need to look “just like you” Don’t change a thing about yourself, you’ve done great so far……keep it going !!

  • C.
    Posted at 01:13h, 13 June Reply

    I have been following your blog for awhile now and I think what you are doing is amazing. What is even more amazing is that you are living with a chronic illness. There is a company in Vancouver called QU Biologics with a new treatment, SSI treatment, that is looking very positive. It is in trials. I thought of you because of your latest treatment that can have so many awful, long term effects. You can find out about in on the net and here is one story.

  • Chloe
    Posted at 01:19h, 13 June Reply

    How racist. Well, if you seriously hate being called Asian that much, you could always go blonde 😉

  • John
    Posted at 02:29h, 15 June Reply

    I don’t think it’s so much that you look Asian as it is that the issue, as it is that your acting ability outstrips the other actresses who could look like your sister.

    Remember, people (and audiences especially) are fairly stupid…”real” families might look nothing alike, but if someone shows up on screen as a sibling they need to look enough alike to not confuse people. If the actress who looks like she could be your sister (suggestion? call the casting director and suggest changing it to a step-sister) stinks on ice? You ain’t getting the part.

    But yeah, suggesting a one-line re-write to a step-sister instead of a sister…gets you the part and points for thinking outside the box.

    • John
      Posted at 02:31h, 15 June Reply

      Check that…producer…not casting agent.

  • ray ban brille
    Posted at 14:52h, 17 June Reply

    wow, this one is good, gonna use for another sport but i think it’ll be just as good, BIG thanks 🙂

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