Mckenna Grace has been one of the busiest working actors of the past decade. The now-16-year-old actor has appeared as Faith Newman, the half-sister of Hunter King’s Summer Newman, in 50 episodes of The Young and the Restless, played a young Captain Marvel in the loathed Marvel film, a young Tonya Harding in the critically acclaimed I.Tonya, and has had roles in Independence Day: Resurgence, Once Upon a Time, The Haunting of Hill House, Fuller House, Designated Survivor, and Young Sheldon.
Then, of course, there’s her work as Esther Keyes in The Handmaid’s Tale and Jan Broberg in A Friend of the Family. But there’s no doubt that her star-making role was in the only good Ghostbusters sequel, 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Despite Mckenna Grace’s acting and singing careers taking off in leaps and bounds, she’s been battling a medical condition that could’ve really stopped her success…
What Is Mckenna Grace’s Medical Condition?
According to her interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Mckenna Grace has suffered from scoliosis since the age of 12.
HopkinsMedicine.org defines scoliosis as a condition that causes spinal deformities. Unlike typical spines, one affected by scoliosis ends up being curved in the shape of an “s” or “c”. This can cause uneven shoulders, waists, and ribcages. It can also cause great discomfort. While it tends to be pretty minor for young kids, it can develop into more serious situations when they age.
According to HopkinsMedicine.org, there is no definitive answer as to why this condition occurs. 80% of cases have no conclusive answer while the other 20% are likely due to arthritis, osteoporosis, or hereditary conditions.
Corrective braces and surgery are usually the most common treatment options depending on the situation.
Why Mckenna Grace Kept Her Condition A Secret
Despite Mckenna Grace’s scoliosis worsening over time, her career didn’t slow down. In her interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Handmaid’s Tale star claimed that she liked to “work and work” until she physically could’ anymore.
“That’s just the type of person I am. I love my work, and I love what I do, so if I’m feeling sore or having a bruise or injury or bump from work, I dig it. It’s like battle scars! My hip would bother me every once in a while and that had to do with my back, but luckily, scoliosis doesn’t come with a lot of pain unless it’s super severe,” Mckenna said to THR.
While Mckenna tried to be private about her condition, there were points were she simply couldn’t hide it.
“On Ghostbusters, there wasn’t a lot of hiding a big old clunky, massive back brace,” she explained to THR. “But for the most part, I just kept it to myself. Even though it’s not the type of thing that is a liability, I didn’t want productions to overthink and think that I was a liability.”
“I always wanted to play a superhero, and I didn’t want people to know there was something wrong with my spine,” she continued. “But eventually, over the past year or so before my surgery, I did have to tell productions because my hip was so prominently higher than the other one. I’d keep it to myself until I was in a fitting, and I would have to tell wardrobe, “Hey, my hip is higher than the other, and sometimes I have to adjust skirts or dresses or pants so they’re wonky, so I don’t look wonky.”
Why Mckenna Grace Got Spinal Surgery
According to Mckenna Grace and the MayoClinic, scoliosis doesn’t typically require spinal surgery until the curvature of the spine reaches about 45-degrees. If it’s left to curve any further, it can impact vital body parts, such as the lungs. When Mckenna Grace got her surgery done in the fall of 2022, her spine was at a 47-degree curve. After her surgery, it’s at a six-degree.
While the surgery was necessary, it was hard for Mckenna to organize one due to her career, which was absolutely exploding.
“It was very difficult to schedule a surgery in the midst of everything I was doing,” Mckenna admitted to The Hollywood Reporter. “I had been shooting [The Handmaid’s Tale] since around May, and then I went straight from that project onto another one that worked six-day weeks — like, adult hours — and that was for a month. Then I literally flew from that to New York to do something, and then I flew back to L.A. the night before my surgery.”
Mckenna Grace decided to reveal her condition to her fans via her song “Self Dysmorphia” as well as Instagram posts about her surgery. While she told The Hollywood Reporter that she prefer to keep her personal life private, the reason for her honesty was ultimately about helping people.
“I’m hoping that maybe people who are going through the same thing will feel less alone,” she explained. “I guess it’s important to show that it doesn’t really matter how it looks on the outside, that everybody still goes through a lot of struggles in our lives.”
There’s no doubt that Mckenna’s life has been changed by getting the surgery. While the recovery process has been a challenge, mostly because she’s required to return to work, Mckenna believes she’s moved through the worst of it.