HIV Positive Extra In 'Philadelphia' Reflects On Film's 20th Anniversary09:05
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Unable to work because of fatigue and pain, Suellen Kehler says her dogs give her a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Kehler was an extra in the 1993 film, "Philadelphia." (Emma Lee/NewsWorks)
Unable to work because of fatigue and pain, Suellen Kehler says her dogs give her a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Kehler was an extra in the 1993 film, "Philadelphia." (Emma Lee/NewsWorks)

Twenty years ago, today, a film that changed the conversation about AIDS in America opened in theaters.

"Philadelphia" starred Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks, and it won box-office success and critical acclaim.

Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in the 1993 film, "Philadelphia." (Clinica Estetico via WHYY)
Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in the 1993 film, "Philadelphia." (Clinica Estetico via WHYY)

It netted two Oscars, including one for Hanks who won a Best Actor award for his portrayal of Andrew Beckett, an HIV-positive lawyer who sues his former law firm after he's unjustly fired.

"Philadelphia" also featured actors whose real lives mirrored the movie: several dozen extras were HIV-positive Philadelphians.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, WHYY's Elana Gordon brings us the story of one of those actors, who is now creating a new script for life with HIV.

Reporter

  • Elana Gordon, health and science reporter for WHYY. She tweets @Elana_Gordon.

This segment aired on December 23, 2013.

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