PHOTO DESCRIPTIONS: 1. A multi-racial woman of color with Arthrogryposis, sitting outdoors in a motorized wheelchair wearing a blue floral to, black slacks and red flats. 2. A multi-racial woman of color with Arthrogryposis, sitting on a stage in a motorized wheelchair singing a song with international superstar Idina Menzel. 3. A multi-racial woman of color with Arthrogryposi, with long dark brown hair wearing red lipstick, and laughing so hard that her eyes are closed.
Jennifer Kumiyama was born with Arthrogryposis and uses a wheelchair daily. Kumiyama received voice lessons at Long Beach City College and California State University of Long Beach. In 2000, Jennifer earned a spot on Warner Bros. reality TV show “Popstars 2” and earned national accolades from many publications including Variety Magazine and TV Guide – referring to her as “the girl in the wheelchair, who’s voice blew everyone out of the water”. Shortly after that in 2002 – Jennifer was cast in Disney’s “Aladdin; a Musical Spectacular” at Disney California Adventure Theme Park, where she is the first performer in a wheelchair to ever be on any Disney stage in the world. She performed 4 times a day for 8,000 guests a day, who visit from every corner of the world. It was at Disney that Jennifer took on her real role as an advocate for people living with disabilities – showing the entire world that talent sees no boundaries. This motivated her to become a speaker – sharing her story with schools, social groups, and major businesses. Her new passion, in addition to singing – is being a voice for people living with disabilities by breaking attitudinal and architectural barriers. "Aladdin; a Musical Spectacular" closed on January 10, 2016.
In 2010, Jennifer was crowned Ms. Wheelchair California and Ms. Wheelchair America 2011, 1st Runner Up. During her reign she spread the message of hope through her platform “Empowering Children with Disabilities to Make Their Own Dreams Come True”.
Jennifer was cast in a major role as ‘Carmen’ in Sundance Film Festival hit and Academy Award Nominated film “The Sessions”, MTV’s teen sensation “Awkward” and became the founder and owner of The Ms. Wheelchair California Foundation in 2011 and has since retired as the State Coordinator in 2016.
Since the closing of 'Aladdin' Jennifer worked for former Long Beach Councilwoman, Senator Lena Gonzalez. She currently works at Progressive Solutions Consulting, a firm that works to elect more women, women of color, and members of the LGBTQ and disability communities. Jennifer is also an AD 70 Delegate in the California Democratic Party.