This story is part of 30 Under 30.
Calum Morris is a 21-year-old magician from Sheffield. He has spent years honing his skills and has set up his own business.
As part of 30 Under 30, he talks about the opportunities his career has given him and how useful magic can be in changing attitudes.
I’ve been interested in magic since being a kid, but it wasn’t until I saw Dynamo walking across the river Thames that I decided I wanted to do it professionally. I was impressed at how he’d taken it to the next level and that night I got my old pack of cards out and started practicing again.
Four years ago I set up my own business. I came up with my stage name, Magi-Cal, and used it as a personal brand. I like to entertain people, cheering them up and putting a smile on their faces, magic gives me the chance to do that everyday. I now perform at birthday parties, corporate events and weddings. I do a mix of stage shows, micromagic and impromptu street performances.
This job has also given me the opportunities to meet world famous magicians. I get on really well with Dynamo, last year he invited me to go backstage at one of his shows, he’s a really nice, likeable guy. It was great to meet Derren Brown and David Blaine as I’m a big fan of them both.
Breaking down barriers
I like to think I’m challenging misconceptions of disability through my work. I’ve always been told what I can and can’t do. At a young age my parents were told that I would never be able to speak, but they never gave up on me. These negative attitudes have only propelled me to overcome the barriers I face. I like to disprove people and always strive to be the best I can possibly be.
People often don’t know how to act around disabled people, they feel awkward and think they have to speak differently to us or talk down to us. Magic is a great way to interact with people and challenge these attitudes. Over my career I’ve definitely seen things start to change and I want to continue to do this.
My disabilities can make learning some tricks more difficult. Being dyspraxic means I’m a bit clumsy, my hand movements are not as fast as people without the condition. This has meant I’ve had to work very hard to master card manipulation and sleight of hand. I always have a deck of cards on me and take every opportunity I can to perform, constantly practicing has helped me really hone my skills.
Most people learn tricks through books but this has never been easy for me because I’m dyslexic. Reading can be a struggle, but I make the most of what I’ve got and think of creative ways to overcome the challenges I face.
As much as my disabilities have been hindering, they’ve also helped me in the industry. I’m able to be much more imaginative with my magic because I’m able to see opportunities for tricks that others can’t. I’ve come up with some really weird pieces that others may not have thought of. I’ve managed to get into Sheffield’s Magic Circle, which wasn’t easy but has really helped me to progress and grow.
I really want people to see past my disabilities. I don’t want people to book me because they feel sorry for me, but because I’m a likeable person and a good magician.
What the future holds for Magi-Cal
This summer I’ll be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I’ve been going every year since I was born and in August I’ll be doing street performances on The Royal Mile. This was always my favourite place to go as a kid, and I’m excited that I’ll be there as an entertainer this year!
Magic is one of the few things that helps people forget about the troubles of day to day life, that’s my favourite thing about it. It’s all about the good feeling it gives people. And if I can make people’s day that little bit better, if I can bring a bit of happiness into the world, I think I’ve done my job well.
Calum is sharing his story as part of 30 Under 30. We are releasing one story a day throughout June from disabled people under 30 who are doing something extraordinary. Visit our website to read more of the stories from the campaign.