Listicle: Five screen artists with Down’s syndrome

This article was published on Alive magazine’s website on 3 June 2016.
The original can be  viewed here. The health and wellbeing magazine and website were produced by myself and 21 of my City University London MA international journalism print pathway colleagues from scratch over the span of 6-7 weeks

While Australian Down’s syndrome model Madeline Stuart is gracing the catwalk, many other talented artists with Down’s syndrome are working in front of the camera.

Tommy Jessop:

Jessop has been working as a professional TV, film and stage actor for almost 10 years. He was the first actor with Down’s syndrome to star in a feature-length BBC drama, in 2007 when he appeared alongside Nicholas Hoult in the BAFTA-nominated Coming Down the Mountain.
He is also the first professional Down’s syndrome actor to play Hamlet, in a production by the Blue Apple Theatre Company. He is one of the founding members, and has appeared in all of their productions.

Sarah Gordy:

Gordy has an extensive CV as an actress, but has also achieved success as a model and dancer. In 2014, she was the first person with Down’s syndrome to play a central character without a disability, when she appeared in Crocodiles at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre.

She is best known for the role of Lady Pamela in the BBC production of Upstairs Downstairs, and her appearance on Call the Midwife as Sally Harper – her episode garnered more than nine million viewers.

Gordy also modelled for award-winning photographer Richard Bailey for Shifting Perspectives, which focused on models with Down’s syndrome over eight years.

Max Lewis:

Lewis achieved fame in 2006, when he appeared alongside Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal, as the protagonist’s son. He then starred in the television police drama, Trials & Retribution.

He is known for his recent role in Tom Burrell’s short The Portrait. Lewis is one of the celebrity spokesmen of Action for Children (AFC).

Liam Bairstow:

In 2015, Bairstow became the first actor with Down’s syndrome to join the cast of Coronation Street, as Alex (nephew of Cathy Matthews). After acting for years in disability theatre company Mind the Gap, he was discovered at ITV disabilities workshop Breaking Through Talent.

His Corrie on-screen banter with actress Melanie Hill has been praised by the audience and critics alike.

Paula Sage:

Sage is a Scottish actress and Special Olympics silver-medallist netballer. In 2003, she performed in AfterLife alongside Lindsay Duncan, which won her the BAFTA award for best first time performance.

She is now an ambassador for Down’s Syndrome Scotland, and is the first person with Down’s syndrome to be chosen as an ambassador for Mencap, the learning disabilities charity.

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