Tae McKenzie is changing the face of disability and inspiring others to do the same.
Updated: Mar 27, 2019
What has your life journey been like?
I am from Charlotte NC - born and raised; a true Charlottean! All my life I have battled with epilepsy and all the hardships that I have faced as a result of it: being teased, picked on, and denied jobs. And because of my disorder, my condition, I never really told anyone because I didn’t want to go through the torment. I had no idea my life was about to take a turn for the worse but also for the better.
What was your life changing moment?
I suffer from a rare form of epilepsy that causes strokes. My second stroke was the result of a severe seizure that caused me to fall, hit my head, lose 80% of my memory and become a complete vegetable. As a result, I had to relearn how to walk, talk, read, and write - even how to count basic numbers 1-10 and learn the alphabet all over again.
What was your biggest fear then and now?
Not being accepted in society anymore and being looked down upon because of my disability and now being in a wheelchair.
At what point did you decide that you wanted to be a role model?
I ended up losing friends and people didn’t want to be around me anymore because of their ignorance. I knew it was time to stop hiding and make a stand. My life had to become more than about me, so it became about advocating for those with stroke epilepsy and disabilities and just making sure we are all treated fairly and not discriminated against.
How are you inspiring others?
I bring the community together through my foundation walk drives, scholarships, and disability fashion shows throughout Charlotte.
My Youtube channel is a platform that promotes and showcases those who are disabled and think that they need help all the time or can’t do something on their own. I demonstrate how the disabled can be more independent - it just takes a little imagination to adjust the world to you.
Through my Instagram, I offer inspiration to women who are disabled, exemplifying they are still beautiful and fashionable despite any disability.
What are some of your proudest moments?
I wrote countless letters that helped get the CBD oils bill signed into law in NC! And I was the first disabled honorary grand marshal in Charlotte’s Thanksgiving Parade! And even though my speech may be limited, my cause is being heard.
Do you believe in "things happen for a reason?"
Yes, I am here to fight for those in this situation who may find it difficult to fight on their own.
How does your career enrich your own life, as well as the lives of others?
What I do each day continues to grow my faith and renews my strength while giving me encouragement to keep fighting for others who are in difficult situations. If someone doesn’t believe they can do something or achieve a goal or feel beautiful, I hope to show them otherwise and offer strength and inspiration. It lets me know that my God is an awesome God!!!
What do you see in your future?
Walking! Every day I see myself walking. And I see myself having an even bigger presence in the entertainment and fashion industry, continuing to advocate for those with disabilities.
How are you involved in the community?
Through my foundation MFSE Foundation Inc, providing scholarship’s, tools, and medical devices to those with stroke and epilepsy. I have set up a GoFundMe page to help bring my vision to life and to help others.
Have you ever experienced a miracle?
Yes - you’re looking at one!
What would you do if money wasn’t in the equation?
Build more homeless shelters and food centers so that people will always have a roof over their heads whether it’s hot or cold, along with a warm meal.
What do you love about Charlotte?
The weather, the melting pot of cultures, and downtown at night is just beyond gorgeous. The lights are so beautiful and the atmosphere is just relaxed.
What change would you like to see in Charlotte over the next 10 years?
Less violence in the city and more holiday decorations and lights during the Christmas season. Can Charlotte look like the spectacular holiday shows on TV?!
What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I own my own haircare line of natural hair growth products www.taesbeauty.com