Actor Charlie Cox (left) gives the credit to East Carolina University alumnus Joe Strechay (right) for the good reviews of his performance as Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer who at night becomes a superhero crime fighter, in the new Netflix series “Daredevil.”
Strechay, who works for the American Foundation for the Blind, was a consultant to the series before “Daredevil” began filming last year. He spent several days teaching Cox the subtle movements he needed to be convincing in the role. The show gained an audience in its first season and Netflix has signed up for 12 new episodes to air this fall.
Student and teacher were back together in June at the 2015 Helen Keller Achievement Awards in New York, where Cox was recognized for raising public awareness about the blind.
“He is a genuine guy and he portrays a positive role model any way you look at it,” Strechay said about the British-born actor, who first attracted attention in the 2007 film “Stardust.”
“The amount of time and effort he puts in to provide an accurate and respectful portrayal is amazing,” Strechay said.
Cox said the hardest acting lessons came when Strechay blindfolded him and led him on brisk walks down busy New York City sidewalks. “He was kind of freaked out but he didn’t tell me that initially,” Strechay said. “I just wanted to show him how I travel.”
Strechay came to ECU from West Virginia with his twin brother, Daniel Strechay. He says he lost most of his eyesight to a congenital condition during his freshman year. He and his brother pledged Sigma Phi and were active in Greek life. Joe majored in communication and Daniel majored in political science. Both graduated in 2001.
After graduation Joe enrolled at Florida State for a master’s degree in methods to improve employment prospects for people with limited vision. He joined AFB in 2008 as program manager for CareerConnect, an AFB website that offers free resources and tools for students and job seekers with vision loss.
Daniel Strachey is manager of sustainability communications for PepsiCo and lives in the New York area.
Joe Strechay now lives in Huntington, West Virginia and travels frequently between AFB’s New York headquarters and training program sites across the country. He remains connected to campus through CommCrew, an alumni support group for the ECU School of Communication.
He believes job opportunities are increasing for people with limited vision as technology improves.
“There is progress,” he said. “There are new regulations that require federal contractors and subcontractors to meet utilization goals for employing persons with disabilities. That actually has helped a lot of veterans. What I say is, we haven’t reached the pinnacle yet but I can see progress being made.”
– Steve Tuttle