Claim to Fame: Actor (Nurse Jackie)
DOB: June 14,1968
Diabetes Type: 1
Stephen Wallem is an up-and-coming television actor, best known for his role as Thor on the Showtime series Nurse Jackie. Though new to television, Wallem is a veteran of the stage, having performed across the country alongside such names as Patti LuPone, Richard Chamberlain, and David Hyde Pierce. A native of Rockford, Illinois, Wallem began his career doing local theater while attending the Creative and Performing Arts School in Rockford.
In 1986, Wallem moved to Chicago, where he made his debut at the Organic Theater in a performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Wallem went on to win great acclaim as Judas in the Court Theater production of Man of La Mancha. Wallem reprised the role at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Connecticut. Wallem is also a well-known cabaret performer, winning the After Dark Award for Outstanding Cabaret Artist for his one-man show Off the Wallem. He has hosted the After Dark Awards, and also participated in the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and the AIDS Care Network, among many other such events.
Wallem, who lost an eye as a result of his type 1 diabetes, is very outspoken about his disease. On the show Nurse Jackie, Wallem’s character, Thor, also has diabetes, and many of Thor’s experiences mirror Wallem’s own. What makes the character so fascinating is the frank portrayal of daily life with diabetes. Wallem is active in the diabetes community, working to promote awareness and garner support in the fight against the disease, while also providing public service announcements and interviews that bring the illness to the forefront of public awareness. In an interview with the Post-Tribune, Wallem said about his illness, “I don’t want people to pity me…I just want people to understand.” Wallem has made this his mantra, and, through characters like Thor, has helped make diabetes visible.