A self-conscious New Jersey teen says she has embraced a body-positive outlook after an encounter with her Broadway idol, Jordan Roth.
Katie Figura, 19, told InsideEdition.com she was at a performance of "Mean Girls" on Broadway earlier this week when she saw Roth, the acclaimed producer and owner of the August Wilson Theatre (where the show is being performed) during intermission.
As a longtime theater fan, Figura said she has always looked up to Roth and couldn’t help but ask him for a selfie.
"She held her camera up, she took the picture and I saw that she had cut her face out," Roth said in an Instagram story. "It was half of her face and all of my face. I said, 'No, we have to take it again — you weren’t in it.'"
Figura explained, "I did not think he would care at all. I figured I might as well be honest at that point and truthfully said, 'Because I’m ugly.'"
Roth, baffled by her response, insisted they re-take the photo.
"I said, 'Please don’t ever say that again. You are beautiful,'" Roth said. "I really know the hardest person to be kind to is ourselves."
Figura said that simple reassurance brightened her day.
"Jordan made me open my eyes in a way they have not been," she said. "I have been working on [self-love] already and still have a long way to go, but knowing someone you look up to is working on it too really helps."
She explained she has gained 80 pounds since she went into lung failure two years ago.
"I was intubated and was in ICU for 18 days," she said. "I was attached to so many machines... when I woke up from all the drugs and anesthetics, I woke up to find I could not move my right foot."
As she recovered, she developed foot drop, a weakness in her right foot caused by nerve damage. Figura said she still has trouble walking properly, and has not yet regained full feeling in her foot.
Because the condition made exercise difficult, Figura said she rapidly put on weight, which led to depression.
"I have learned that loving yourself is not an easy thing and it will take a while to learn," Figura said. "But people will be there to support you no matter what. Even complete strangers are rooting for you."