Emily Blunt grew up with a stutter and faced bullying as a result. Looking back, the beloved, acclaimed actress wishes she'd had the American Institute for Stuttering in her corner; today, the organization helps thousands of clients across the country through their speech challenges with practical and emotional guidance.
Though she has since largely overcome her stutter, Emily, 40, has nonetheless remained close with the stuttering community, serving as a source of steadfast support and, naturally, inspiration.
Last night, her pride for both AIS and the stuttering community was on full display, as she hosted the American Institute for Stuttering 17th Annual Gala in New York City, – where she spoke to HELLO! about her journey with stuttering, her advice to her daughters, and the support she has received from her husband of 13 years, John Krasinski.
"I think sometimes people feel very alone when they have a stutter," Emily said, adding: "Partly because it's not a disability that's talked about enough. It's not out there enough. It's almost like people are embarrassed to admit that they have this."
The British star maintained: "Nights like this are really important, because it just shows that there's a community of people who are just like you, and we're waiting for you, and you'll be fine."
The Oppenheimer actress is deeply involved with the organization and its clients, and has hosted the annual gala on multiple occasions. She added: "That's what keeps me coming back year after year, it's to spread awareness, but [also to] hear people tell their stories, because it's such a moving, kind of emotional disability to have when you can't express who you really are."
She noted: "It… affects me so much when I see people caged by [their stutter], so I love nights like this for all those reasons."
Emily has previously spoken about stuttering running in her family – it has been considered to be a genetic trait – and revealed that she has spoken about it, and the bullying she endured, with her two daughters, Hazel, eight, and Violet, six.
She said: "I've been honest about having one as a kid, and we talk about bullying," adding: "We talk about kindness, all the time. And compassion for others, but self compassion for yourself. That's an ongoing parenting conversation in the house."
When she was first struggling with her stutter as a pre-teen, Emily was advised to take on a character or different accents in an effort to improve her stutter. Of course, she went on to find massive success through acting (and all manner of accents and characters), but her stutter still reappears every now and then.
"It does resurface," she said, adding that John, 43, has both witnessed and supported her through the times she struggles with it.
"He's used to sort of hearing it when it does resurface," she said of John, who missed the gala because he was stuck working on a movie in post-production, though she added: "It's kind of rare these days, and I could cover it usually," and admitted: "But pressurized environments are still tricky for me."
"I didn't have a place like this," she finally recalled, and further said of AIS: "I think this really was the answer. I wish I'd had them growing up."