For Funnyman Tony Hale, Asthma is No Laughing Matter


Buster Bluth. Gary Walsh. Forky. Tony Hale has played some of the most endearing goofballs we’ve ever seen. And while it takes a lot of craft to pull off comedy on that level, Tony has also been navigating another challenge both on and off the set: asthma.

Our partnership with Tony pulls back the curtain on his lifelong journey to manage and understand his unique asthma. Tony recently got a blood test to learn more about his asthma, and now his next mission is to help educate others on the importance of working with a doctor on a personalized approach to care since not all asthma is the same.

Allergy & Asthma Network (AAN) President and Chief Executive Officer, Tonya Winders, and American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED) Executive Director, Mary Jo Strobel, had the opportunity to ask Tony about his experience of living with asthma. Check out their exchange below!

AAN – Tonya Winders, President and Chief Executive Officer

How has your asthma changed from childhood to adult? Was there ever a time when you thought you “outgrew” asthma?

To be honest, the impact that asthma has had on my life goes so far back for me that I can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t have it. When I was a kid, we were traveling as a family in Italy and my dad said something like “where’s the coliseum,” and I remember thinking, “where’s the nearest hospital” in case I had an asthma attack.

Over time I’ve learned how to manage my symptoms and my emotions a lot better. That’s why I’m proud to be partnering with AstraZeneca to help share accurate information and resources to other asthma sufferers that, now more than ever, is so important.

What would you do differently regarding your asthma management?

There is a lot of power in knowledge. As a patient, you can take a more proactive role in your asthma management. I mean, who knew that there were even different types of asthma and that you can take a blood test to find out more information about your own. What a gift for me to be able to share that message with others after learning that myself. I had always associated asthma with being triggered by factors outside the body, but I had no idea that it could be contributed to by an elevated level of a type of white blood cell called the eosinophil, which can be detected through a blood test.

APFED – Mary Jo Strobel, Executive Director 

How do you balance your career while managing asthma? Has it ever interrupted your work on set? If so, how did you handle that situation?

There was one scene I remember shooting years ago that took place in a horse barn, and I didn’t realize that until we arrived on set. I had a really bad asthma attack, but I’m thankful someone in the crew was able the help. Afterwards, I learned to be a lot more aware about what I’m walking into before I arrive.

Even though I have asthma, I do a ton of animation where I use my voice and my breath, and I think it’s pretty awesome that a kid like me who could barely breathe growing up is now able to use those same lungs professionally, and I’m really thankful for that.

What advice would you give to a patient with a new asthma diagnosis?

I would tell them that there’s a lot they can do to advocate for themselves and to have well informed conversations with their doctor. Living with asthma is a journey. It’s something that stays with you, but you don’t have to just go along for the ride. You can get in the proverbial driver’s seat, and you can shift things into gear for yourself. It’s all about finding the right kind of care and treatment for you, and that means staying in tune with your body, your breathing, and knowing more about your specific type of asthma. 

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For more information about eosinophilic asthma, or e-asthma, and where you can go to get a free blood test, you can visit easthma.com.

You can also visit AAN to get your free Understanding Asthma guide and APFED for a free downloadable brochure about e-asthma.