Zyra Gorecki as Izzy
Eoin Macken as Gavin, Zyra Gorecki as Izzy, Natalie Zea as Eve and Jon Seda as Dr. Sam
Chiké Okonkwo as Ty and Zyra Gorecki as Izzy
Zyra Gorecki's Same Difference
The actress brings authenticity to her role as a limb-different teen in NBC's La Brea.
In the NBC series La Brea, teenager Izzy Harris has an aversion to spiders. But in real life, the actress who plays Izzy compares herself to the arachnids. "I'm a spider," Zyra Gorecki says cheerfully. "I've had more than eight legs."
Prosthetic legs, that is, and feet as well. For the past seven years, Gorecki has worn a prosthetic left limb, after an accident when she was thirteen resulted in amputation.
That circumstance makes the Michigan native one of only a few real-life amputees to play someone with a limb difference on television. In the sci-fi drama series, whose second season returns for its winter premiere January 31, Izzy and her family are among the survivors of a massive sinkhole near the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles which leads to a prehistoric world.
"I think what I bring to Izzy is genuinely experiencing things that people [aren't familiar with]," says Gorecki, who at six feet tall was a model before turning to TV. She got the role with only one previous credit, as a pedestrian hit by a car in a 2016 episode of Chicago Fire.
"You have no idea what it's like to wake up in the morning and go, 'I have to get to the bathroom, I'm going to puke,' or whatever, and have to crawl on your knees. Or what it's like to be told at an amusement park, 'You are not allowed on this ride because you have a fake leg.' You have no idea the things that people go through until you go through them yourself. I bring that deeper knowledge."
She also brings a "go for it" attitude, filming running scenes and stunt work, including a day-long fight sequence, take after take. Izzy's disability was noted matter-of-factly within the opening minute of the pilot episode, an approach that's just fine with Gorecki.
"It's not being hidden away like a dirty little secret," she says. "I've been around parents and little kids, where the kids would look at my leg and try to figure it out, because people are naturally curious. And the parents would pull them away, like, 'Don't look.' That makes it become something scary, something bad. So NBC putting it in the spotlight and going, 'This is what it is, it's not a bad thing,' is really powerful."
She's heard from others with limb differences who appreciate that all-too-rare representation on television. And she hopes viewers will take from the show the idea that "being different is beautiful. Being the same is beautiful. Whoever you are is beautiful. There's so much media out there that tells you, 'You have to look this way, you have to be this, to be loved and to be worthy.' You have value inherently because you're a human being."