Woman says films should stop having villains with scarred faces

Woman who suffered severe burns in a plane crash that killed her family calls on Hollywood to stop having villains with facial disfigurements – after being called Freddy Krueger as a child

  • Tulsi Vagjiani explained how she suffered abuse as child due to scarring on face
  • She said film industry affects how people perceive those with disfigurements
  • Campaigner also described negative effect villains had on her own confidence 

A woman who suffered severe burns in a plane crash that killed her parents and brother has called for Hollywood to stop having villains with facial disfigurements. 

Tulsi Vagjiani explained how she suffered abuse as a child due to the scarring on her face, and was called names including Freddy Krueger – the villain from Nightmare on Elm Street.

She said that the film industry was hugely influential on how people perceive those with visible facial differences, calling for more positive portrayals of those with scarring.

Tulsi described the negative effect that having villains with facial disfigurements in films has had on her own confidence growing up.

Tulsi Vagjiani, who suffered severe burns in a plane crash that killed her parents, has called for Hollywood to stop having villains with facial disfigurements 

Tulsi was left with scarring after surviving a plane crash aged 10, and having more than 50 operations to rebuild her face, arms and legs 

Speaking on This Morning, Tulsi said: ‘We’re campaigning for change in Hollywood and the film industry to not represent villains with a visible difference, with scars and things like that.

‘I grew up with a lot of stigma attached to villains in the films. I didn’t realise the impact it was having on me and my confidence. It was quite challenging


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‘I didn’t realise how influential the film industry was on people and their perceptions of visible difference.’

Tulsi was severely burned in a plane crash that killed her parents and brother when she was just 10, on her way home from her first holiday in India. 

Tulsi (above on This Morning_ explained how she suffered abuse as child due to the scarring on her face, and was called names including Freddy Krueger

Becky Hewitt, from charity Changing Faces, (right, with Tulsi on This Morning) said using film villains to mock those with facial disfigurements was ‘very common’ 

She survived after being pulled out the wreckage by a fellow passenger, and had  more than 50 operations to rebuild her face, arms and legs. 

On This Morning, Tulsi described how she was bullied for the way she looked following the accident, 

‘When I was growing up, I was referred to a villain character rather than a good character,’ she explained.

‘I grew up being called Freddy Krueger, I didn’t know who he was. When i spoke to my uncle, and he got really angry. He explained it was the character from Nightmare on Elm street.’

Tulsi explained how she was compared to Freddy Krueger, the villain from Nightmare on Elm Street, when she was a child 

Becky Hewitt, from charity Changing Faces, said it was sadly a common issue for those with facial disfigurements.

‘This use of disfigured characters to mock people is very common, ‘ she said. ‘It’s provoking bullying, but also it’s this impact on your own mental health and you internalise that.

‘What we really want is a broader representing of scarring and looking different. We want many more actors looking visibly different in a whole variety of roles.’

This Morning airs on ITV on weekdays from 10.30am.   

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