About 25 million Americans live with asthma, and the challenges have become more present during the coronavirus pandemic. Tony Hale, best known for voicing Forky in Toy Story 4 and portraying Buster Bluth in Arrested Development, is just one of those Americans learning to live in this new world. Hale opened up about the "inside triggers" asthmatics face every day, raising awareness and helping others with the condition learn the options to control it through his new partnership with AstraZeneca.
Hale, who is starring in Hulu's upcoming series The Mysterious Benedict Society, has had asthma "for as long as I can remember" and, like many asthmatics, has carried around an inhaler wherever he goes. That's why it was vital for him to get the word out and connect with other asthmatics. "I get how scary it can be and how much anxiety it can be," Hale told PopCulture.com. Asthma is also like many other conditions in that it is not the same for everyone. About seven out of 10 people with asthma have a "heightened level of a white blood cell called eosinophils." If you take the blood test to learn if you have this condition, you can work out a more personal approach to controlling your asthma with your doctor, Hale noted. The site easthma.com offers resources on getting the test.
"It causes the intensive patient anxiety of when it might happen again," Hale said of asthma, describing it as "breathing through a straw of a sudden... Just when it's bad, you're just trying your hardest to get a breath in. And as a kid, that's...I mean, it's scary." For Hale, being an asthmatic growing up was like feeling "allergic to half the world."
When Hale was growing up, his family traveled a lot. Rather than taking in the sights of where he went, the nearest hospital's location was top of mind. "We went to Italy once, my dad was in the army, so we would travel around a lot. And we went to Italy once," Hale recalled. "And I remember specifically hearing somebody go, 'Oh, where's the Coliseum?' And I had a thought of like, 'Where's the nearest hospital in case of an Asthma attack?'"
Besides raising awareness of asthma, Hale has contributed to a handful of fundraisers during the pandemic, including an upcoming one for The Center in Hollywood, which helps the homeless population in Los Angeles. Like so many people, he is also trying to find ways to make the most of staying home during the pandemic. Instead of focusing on what we've lost, he has tried to think about the new opportunities to reconnect with friends he hasn't spoken with recently. "The fact of the matter is I've connected with people that I never would have connected with," Hale said. "I've had these like random college reunions and zoom meetings to raise. I mean, like finding new inventive ways and it's like, I don't know, there have been some good things that have come out of it."