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Models, Actresses And Actors With Down Syndrome Can Teach Us A Lot

Updated on August 17, 2015

People With Down Syndrome Bring A Special Kind Of Beauty To Life!

A beautiful little girl with Down Syndrome!
A beautiful little girl with Down Syndrome! | Source

Recent Models With Down Syndrome Have Been Inspirational

The idea I had for writing this piece comes from articles I've read recently about two inspirational young ladies with Down Syndrome who have both become fashion models. One was the first fashion model with Down Syndrome to walk the runway in New York during Fashion Week. Her name is Jamie Brewer, and you might also know her from her work on the television show "American Horror Story."

A fashion designer named Carrie Hammer, who runs a campaign called "Role Models Not Runway Models," noticed Jamie Brewer from her work in "American Horror Story". She created fashions just for her to wear and to model for this event on the runway at New York's Fashion Week. Jamie was happy to do it and she loves the idea of being an inspiration to young people who live each day with disabilities and who shine despite their difficulties.

Jamie Brewer is also inspirational for the work she's done serving on the ARC Governmental Affairs Committee for Texas. She sought to help secure rights for disabled people, and to remove the use of the word "retarded". Prior to that, the word had been used in Texas state legislation.

Brewer was interested in acting from an early age. She has had training in theater, comedy, improv, drama and in musicals. American Horror Story was her first big acting job.

Designer Carrie Hammer also made headlines by featuring a model who "walked" the runway in her wheelchair. This model is Dr. Danielle Sheypuk, and she was the first ever to participate in a pageant from a wheelchair. As recently as fall of 2014, Carrie Hammer also featured a quadruple amputee named Karen Crespo, who lost her limbs from a severe case of bacterial meningitis, as a model chosen to model the Carrie Hammer fashion line from spring of 2015.

Carrie Hammer received many thanks from people inside and outside of the industry for working to lessen the gap between those with physical and intellectual disabilities and other people. One person who noticed her work and thanked her was Katie Driscoll. She founded the non-profit group "Changing The Face Of Beauty." Katie Driscoll also has personal experience with Down Syndrome since her daughter, Grace was born with it.

Another Inspirational Model From Australia

Madeline Stuart is the second fashion model with Down Syndrome to make the news in early 2015. She is scheduled to walk at New York Fashion Week in September of 2015. This beautiful young lady is just 18 years old, and is a model from Australia.

Some of her biggest goals are to change people's ideas of Down Syndrome and to help correct the often mistaken assumptions of what can be achieved by people born with Down Syndrome. She also hopes her efforts will help to change the unrealistic beauty expectations for fashion models. Her walk during New York's fashion week will happen in partnership with the Christopher Reeve Foundation.

Stuart has also recently signed contracts with an accessories brand and with an active wear brand, contracts that materialized partly due to her success in modeling. And she has accomplished all this in spite of heart issues that have affected her since birth, which are being controlled with heart medications.

Some of the biggest takeaways I've gotten from the articles I've read recently about Madeline Stuart and Jamie Brewer are the positive can-do attitudes they bring to life, along with a spirit of never giving up even when the odds are against you.

Down Syndrome Facts

Alzheimers Disease and Down Syndrome
Alzheimers disease sometimes occurs at higher rates in those with Down Syndrome. This is because the gene for Alzheimers Disease lies in Chromosome 21. Most people have two copies of Chromosome 21. Those with Down Syndrome have three copies of this chromosome.
Life Span Has Increased
For people with Down Syndrome, the life span was to live to about age 25 in 1983. Today, people with Down Syndrome can live to age 60 and above.
Heart Disease And Down Syndrome
As many as 40 to 50 percent of babies born with Down Syndrome can also have heart defects and heart disease. The most common heart defect is called atrioventricular septal defect. There are several other defects associated with Down Syndrome as well.
Common Misperceptions
There are misperceptions about what can be achieved by those with Down Syndrome, especially about the levels of independence they can achieve. The truth is, there are many with Down Syndrome who live independently, have girlfriends or boyfriends and who see career success. Some people are even able to attend college and earn degrees.

Actors And Actresses With Down Syndrome

One of the first actors with Down Syndrome to appear in a television series was Chris Burke, who played a character named Corky Thatcher on an ABC show called "Life Goes On," from 1989 until 1993.

Television appearances by those with Down Syndrome help in the effort to change people's perceptions of Down Syndrome. It also helps organizations like the National Down Syndrome Society, which has seen increases in donations and more fundraising efforts once people watch and enjoy television shows starring actors with Down Syndrome. In turn, this helps to raise more financing for research efforts.

Recently, the Fox television series "Glee" has featured at least two actresses with Down Syndrome. An actress named Robin Trocki played Sue Sylvester's sister. Her character on the show was named Jean Sylvester.

Another actress named Lauren Potter also played a spirited cheerleader named Becky, who quickly became a "Glee" favorite.

Other television shows to feature stars with Down Syndrome include:

- The New Normal

- Shameless

- Legit

- Blue Bloods

- American Horror Story

There is an active organization in the entertainment industry called "Down Syndrome In Arts And Media," headed by Gail Williamson, who is the mother of a son with Down Syndrome. Before becoming involved in this organization, Gail Williamson spent 12 years on California's Governor's Committee on Employment of People With Disabilities.

Looking For Inspiration? It Might Be Easier To Find Than You Think!

I know for me, reading these stories recently about models, actresses and actors with Down Syndrome has been an inspirational and uplifting experience. Many people today look for positive stories, those that will leave them with a lighter heart after reading them.

When I look at people like Jamie Brewer, Madeline Stuart and the actors and actresses with Down Syndrome who have appeared on television, it has given me a whole new respect for those who have overcome obstacles and found success.


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    • KathyH profile image

      KathyH 2 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      You're welcome, Chantelle! So glad you enjoyed it!

    • Chantelle Porter profile image

      Chantelle Porter 2 years ago from Chicago

      What a wonderfully heartwarming article. Thank you for bringing it to everyone's attention.

    • KathyH profile image

      KathyH 2 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I agree Dolores! I love the stories I've been seeing about these successful models! Beautiful, and changing the ideas of beauty! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I love how the lovely faces of people with DS are popping up everywhere. Someone posted one of the models, don't remember who, a young lady with DS wearing a pink prom dress and matching Doc Martins.