Albinism is a congenital disorder which results in a lack of pigmentation of the hair, skin, and eyes.
One person in 17,000 has some form of albinism.
The disorder is not contagious, nor can it be transferred from individual to individual through dermal contact, blood transfusion, or via pathogen carrying organism.
Note – people with albinism are considered legally blind due to the fact that their photoreceptors are unable to adequately convert light into clear signals to the brain. As a result, individuals with this congenital disorder have a condition called nystagmus.
Beside this, in the US, most people with albinism have the same types of general medical problems as the rest of the population and normal life spans.
One type of albinism is called oculocutaneous albinism (OCA). People with OCA have a complete lack of pigment, with pink or white skin, hair, and eye color.
There are a few subtypes of oculocutaneous albinism, that include: OCA1, OCA2, OCA3, and OCA4.
Another type of albinism is called ocular albinism (OA). It is caused by a gene mutation on the X chromosome and occurs almost exclusively in males. OA mainly affects the eyes. The hair and skin are of normal or near-normal color.
People with OA typically have blue eyes. In some cases, the iris has very little color, therefore, a person‘s eyes might look reddish or pink. This is caused by the blood vessels inside the eye showing through the iris.
Griscelli Syndrome is an extremely rare genetic disorder which is caused by a defect in one of three genes. However, there have been only 60 known cases of Griscelli syndrome worldwide since 1978.
Chediak-Higashi Syndrome is caused by a defect in the LYST gene. It produces symptoms similar to oculocutaneous albinism, however, it may not affect all areas of the skin.
Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome is a rare form of albinism which is caused by a defect in one of eight genes. HPS produces symptoms similar to oculocutaneous albinism and occurs with bowel, lung, and bleeding disorders.
There is no cure. Albinism is a lifelong condition which does not worsen with time.
11 Famous People With Albinism (Albinos) – List
1) Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper is an actor who was born in New York in 1967 to heiress Gloria Vanderbilt and actor Wyatt Cooper.
He is also an award-winning journalist and television personality well known for his work with the television channel CNN. He is known for Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Chappie (2015), and The 33 (2015). In addition, Anderson has been a guest co-host of Live! with Kelly (1988), filling in for Regis Philbin on a few occasions since 2006.
At 17, Anderson decided to backpack through Central Africa. While there, he contracted malaria and spent time at a hospital in Kenya.
After years of speculation, Anderson Cooper publicly admitted his homosexuality via a July 2012 email to Andrew Sullivan.
He also said that by revealing his albinism he can now “stop wearing blue contact lenses to hide my albino condition” and this makes him feel “free to be myself.”
2) Victor Varnado
He is an American actor and stand-up comedian who grew up in Huntsville, Alabama.
He later moved to Minneapolis, where he worked with the local improvisation troupes The Bad Mamma Jammas, ComedySportz MN, and a few regional theater companies.
In an interview, Victor Varnado said – “I’m definitely exploiting my albinism in the entertainment industry as much as I can to move forward, but I also am aware that I don’t want to be perceived as just the albino guy.”
Winston Foster, also known as King Yellowman, is a Jamaican reggae and dancehall deejay who was popular in Jamaica in the 1980s, coming to prominence with a series of singles which established his reputation.
In 1982, he was diagnosed with skin cancer (due to his albinism) and was initially told that he only had 3 more years to live.
But, this prognosis proved to be inaccurate, and after numerous surgeries, Yellowman was able to continue his musical career.
4) Nastya Zhidkova
She is an Albino fashion model who was born in Russia on October 28, 1996. Her birth sign is Scorpio.
Nastya Zhidkova’s unique coloring and striking eyes make her ideal for minimalist and futuristic photographs.
Also, her paleness evokes feelings of chilliness, making it a great compliment to technology.
5) Connie Chiu
Connie Chiu is a Chinese albino model from Hong Kong but she was raised in Sweden and eventually paraded off to London to become a supermodel.
In a recent interview, Connie Chiu stated that – “I guess I always knew I was different, but I feel exactly the same as anyone. I was made like this. It’s like being born with arms—you don’t go around saying, ‘Oh my God, arms!’ They’re just there.”
6) Shaun Ross
He is an American model, actor, and dancer who is best known for being the first male albino pro model.
Shaun Ross has been featured in photo-editorial campaigns in fashion publications including Italian Vogue, i-D Magazine, British GQ, Another Man, and Paper Magazine.
7) Brother Ali
Ali Newman, better known by his stage name Brother Ali, is an American community activist, hip-hop artist, and member of the Rhymesayers Entertainment hip-hop collective.
He was born in Madison, Wisconsin with albinism.
His latest album is called Us. In a song with the same title, Brother Ali explains his start: “I started rhyming just to be somebody/to make people notice me at the party.”
8) Thando Hopa
She is a legal adviser and model. Thando Hopa is also an activist fighting to change perceptions of individuals who suffer from albinism.
Thando and photographer Justin Dingwall have put together an exhibition which explores the counter-aesthetic of albinism.
9) Jewell Jeffrey
The actor, DJ, and model isn’t just unique-looking, Jewell is also stylish and living a glamorous Parisian life that he chronicles on his Instagram account, by the name jewelljeffrey.
10) Diandra Forrest
She is an African-American top model and fashion model who was born on October 22, 1989, in the Bronx, New York City, USA.
Diandra has a brother, also suffering from albinism. Since she endured the humiliation of peers, her parents had to put Diandra out of the public school to a specialist.
Diandra Forrest began modeling after she was noticed by photographer Shameer Khan during shopping.
11) Refilwe Modiselle
Refilwe is a South African entertainer and model born in Rockville, Soweto.
Modiselle is best known for being the first albino model to appear on a runway in South Africa.
Do you know any other celebrities with albinism? Please let us know in the comments below.