Madelyn Kratzer has never let challenges stop her or keep her from achieving her dreams.

The Shelby High School student recently became the voice of Aquaryah in Barbie Mermaid Power, and hopes the role will inspire others.

Adopted at four years old by Chris and Amy Kratzer, she was born in China and found abandoned under a bridge at two weeks old, wrapped in a black jacket. She was taken in by a foster family until her adoption.

Madeyln has a genetic condition called duane radial ray syndrome, which affects the eyes and causes bone abnormalities in the arms and hands.

Madelyn said this means her fingers are contracted, she has missing fingers and missing or shortened bones in her arms.

Although she said she had her difficulties, she didn’t let them stop her from doing the things she wanted to do.

“I just do things differently than other people,” she said.

Amy Kratzer said her daughter could do things differently, but she “always finds a way”.

Madelyn said that due to her difference in member, she often receives stares and questions, especially from children.

She has advice for those who feel different.

“Just be yourself,” she said. “Don’t let people tell you what you can’t do.”

Aquaryah, who is a new addition to Barbie and the film’s main character, also has limb impairment.

“She was a perfect fit,” Chris Kratzer, her father, said when she was cast in the role.

“I love the strength of Aquaryah, it represents different kids,” Madelyn said. “She stands up for what is right. I like the way she is confident and stands up for herself. You don’t see it much.

She said she wanted to inspire other children through her acting.

“I never dreamed of being in a Barbie movie,” Madelyn said.

When the movie was released on Netflix, she had a viewing party with her friends and said it was weird to hear her voice in the movie.

Madelyn first started acting when she was around nine years old when she helped film a video for Zearn, an online educational site, teaching math to other children.

Amy Kratzer said they traveled to New York where the video was filmed.

She immediately fell in love.

“I knew I wanted to do more,” Madelyn said.

Since then, she has appeared in several commercials and has just completed work on a second film, which has yet to be released.

The ninth-grader has an agent in Atlanta with the Alexander White agency.

She said that not only was it fun, but as an Asian with a limb difference, she wanted to use her roles to promote inclusivity and diversity.

Her parents said that since then she has been cared for by the Lucky Fin Project, which is a support network and community of adults and children who have membership differences.

“It’s very inspiring,” Madelyn said.

Recently, she was featured in a Cartoon Network anti-bullying ad that targeted identity-based bullying and encouraged kids to include others and speak up when they witness bullying at school or on line.

She has just finished filming another movie and hopes to continue her journey and continue accepting roles.

“I love doing it,” she said. “It’s funny.”

As for the future, she said she was interested in a career in the medical field, either as an actress or as a doctor.

Her parents said she had a way of connecting with others.

Rebecca Sitzes can be reached at [email protected]

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