Tony Hartman: Digital Media Professional Living With Muscular Dystrophy

Written by
Whitney Bailey
Written by
Whitney Bailey

Tony Hartman is a digital media professional currently living in Los Angeles, California. He has had an interesting career in the media field working alongside some popular acts. Tony was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy in adulthood. Read more about his story in Tony’s interview with AbleThrive below.

Headshot of Tony

Tell me a little bit about yourself (your story):

I am a “North American content professional” living in Los Angeles by way of Northeast Ohio. I have a great wife, dog, and rabbit. I also have a rare and chronic muscle disease called LGMD2i. There is currently no cure or current treatments and I battle with it everyday. 

What are some of your favorite ‘highlights’ from your career thus far?

Thankfully there’s been quite a few over the years. In my late teens and early twenties I got to play music with my friends and tour all over the country with some of my favorite artists and groups. At some point, my friend Chris and I started making weird videos in the early YouTube days to pass time on tour and that’s kinda what put me on my career path as online video started to become an actual business.

Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve had the opportunity to keep working with a lot of musicians, creators, and athletes on some exciting, diverse projects. Everything from having the opportunity to facilitate the debut for the new Star Wars toys in 2015 with a massive worldwide YouTube livestream to making a cartoon and playing Mario Kart with hip-hop legend and innovator Chief Keef. Outside of my full-time work, I’ve gotten to write for an actual movie and tell the stories of other professionals battling chronic illness and disability for adidas.  

What goals do you hope to accomplish in the future? 

First and foremost, the dream is I want to work hard and beat this disease. I know that’s more up to science than it is me at this point and things are moving along nicely and seem promising. Until then, I’m just trying to stay safe, active, and continue growing as a person. I’d love to continue doing creative things that might help the differently abled community in some way. Also - I have years of almost daily logs that kinda tell a cool, interesting, and sometimes funny story about dealing with a degenerative disease getting increasingly more challenging while trying to grow and stay afloat and grow in my career/life in general that would be really fun to turn into a book. I think it’ll have messages that can help or entertain anyone, regardless of their challenges or situation.

What advice do you have for others about pursuing their dreams, goals, etc.?

I’m gonna defer to my friend and former colleague Nicole who is a disabled actor that recently landed a network TV gig. I interviewed her for the adidas project and she said it better than I can:
“Go for it. Figure out what it is you want and write it down. Learn everything about what you want to do, but don’t get trapped into studying it to death. Keep moving forward and start saying ‘YES’.”

Just do your research, be resourceful and figure out who to reach out to and whatnot. It never hurts to reach out to people because, worst case scenario, they don’t respond or can’t help. 

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Writing for sure -though that has thankfully transcended hobby and is now a big part of how I make a living. I love watching the NBA which is currently shutdown alongside many other things during the Corona lockdown and I miss it dearly. Reading, finding new restaurants and coffee to try around Los Angeles, and I’m always hopeful that I’ll learn some new recipes. We’ll see.

What does it mean to live life to the fullest?

I’m honestly still figuring that out. Having a disability, especially one that didn't’ show signs until adulthood, often means adjusting expectations and having to sacrifice quite a bit of “life living” as most people know it. It doesn’t always have to be that way, but unfortunately that’s the overall reality. I’m always thankful for what I got to do and see before my symptoms became more limiting, but it’s also scary to think that the “best days” are behind me. I think everyone worries about that sometimes though. It’s not always easy, but sometimes redefining what a “best day” could look like helps.  I think every day making the choices that aren’t always the easiest or most comfortable is a good start. That’s something I’m trying to be more consistent with because it definitely seems to help get the most out of the days. 

Thanks to Tony for the great interview! Do you want to be featured on Share your story with us!

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