Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

Produced with  Cool Hunting

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes is featured in Cool Hunting 25, a showcase, presented in partnership with Cadillac, of 25 creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

There’s at least a fine line between producing groundbreaking films and producing life-changing events. Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes does both. From her role as an actress and producer in the short film “Atlantic Avenue” to showing work in both Sundance and the Tribeca Film Festival, the 24-year-old has already made her mark in the film world. Also the founder and director of the non-profit (Dis)ABLED Visionaries, at the same time she’s on a mission to show how being in a wheelchair—or having any disability—isn’t a hindrance to happiness and success.

Born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, perhaps better understood as fragile bone disease, the young artist’s affliction hasn’t impeded her work in the slightest. In fact, she’s most often seen speeding around in her chair with a smile as she leads others with passion and energy. Her goal at its most simple, she explains, “is about inspiring everyone to pursue their own dreams.”

I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more.

But, awareness comes first. From giving speeches at the United Nations to film sets and gatherings for her non-profit, no project has stood out more than her first major initiative, the recent (dis)ABLED Visionaries. The partnership with TED Prize-winning artist JR, a fellow French national, gave Huyghues Despointes access to his InsideOut Project—large-scale public photos designed to share untold stories, complete with a photo booth truck. With a goal of capturing 3,000 portraits of “differently-abled” individuals, ultimately (Dis)ABLED InsideOut will show them in an outdoor exhibition of giant wheat-pasted photos (as JR often does with his work).

“I feel blessed. I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more,” the upstart filmmaker-activist says, adding, “The movement is on.” And what a movement it is. With even cities like New York and Paris not really handicapped accessible, and the voices Huyghues Despointes has united to stand stronger and make real change, this is only the start of a future filled with the faces, voices and figures of many.

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