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Terri Mauro

Actors With Down Syndrome Featured in 'Entertainment Weekly'

By February 24, 2012

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Wow. I knew there was going to be something about Down syndrome in this week's Entertainment Weekly thanks to a Tweet from Pamela Wilson, who writes about special needs for BellaOnline, but I'd forgotten about it enough that when I flipped through the new issue, I was blown away to turn a page and see a gorgeous portrait of three young actors with Down syndrome -- Luke Zimmerman from The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Jamie Brewer from American Horror Story, and Lauren Potter from Glee.

The seven-page article profiles each of these young actors, spotlights a few more, adds a look at Down syndrome on reality TV, and visits with Chris Burke, who for a long time was the best-known actor with Down syndrome for his role on the series Life Goes On. In addition to giving all these actors some great publicity, the article by Lynette Rice looks at the challenge of finding more roles for actors with DS. One quote:

"That's exactly what Brewer and her peers are asking from Hollywood: to be treated like just any other aspiring actor with a head shot and a dream. More specifically, in a time when color blind casting is no longer a new concept, Brewer, Potter, and Zimmerman want the chance to audition for any role Hollywood has to offer, not just parts that specifically call for individuals with DS. 'Producers have gone from having them play sappy Tiny Tim stories to having them play edgy stuff on Glee and American Teenager,' says [Down Syndrome in Arts & Media] founder Gail Williamson, who works with about 200 aspiring actors with DS. 'We're hoping the pendulum will swing back and maybe settle in the middle.'"

The article does not appear to be on the Entertainment Weekly website at this time, but it's worth checking out the print addition to see this major article in a mainstream magazine about actors we hope will become more mainstream themselves. (It's the March 2, 2012 issue, with Billy Crystal and a big gold Oscar on the cover). Thanks to EW for the story, and I hope to be surprised by many more such articles.

Do you have a favorite TV show that features an actor or performer with a disability? See if it made the Readers' Choice Awards finals, and cast your vote today!

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February 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm
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