ByCharley-Hannah, writer at Creators.co
I became so addicted to film, I decided to do a degree in it. Twitter: @Charley_Hannah
Charley-Hannah

Jamie Brewer is an actress best known for her roles as Marjorie, Adelaide, and Nan in series' 1-4 of American Horror Story. She is 31 and suffers from Down's Syndrome.

Through her acting career, modelling, and activism within America she has increased an awareness and a greater understanding towards those with special needs.

Understanding Down Syndrome:

  • It is a genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and characteristic physical features
  • Caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21 in a baby's cells.
  • There is no "cure" for Down's syndrome
  • Around 775 babies are born with the condition each year in England and Wales.
  • Those with Down's Syndrome often have learning disabilities and delayed development
  • DS is not inherited, it is as a result of a one-off genetic 'mistake' in the sperm or egg
  • People with Down's syndrome often have certain physical characteristics. Not everyone will have all of them, but they may include:

reduced muscle tone that results in floppiness

a small nose and flat nasal bridge

a small mouth with a protruding tongue

eyes that slant upwards and outwards

a flat back of the head

a big space between the first and second toe

broad hands with short fingers

their palm may have only one crease across it

below-average weight and length at birth

  • Down's Syndrome is something which an individual is born with. However, there is no reason someone cannot lead an independent fulfilled life with the syndrome. There has been an increase in the amount of adults with DS living independently with a degree of support.

American Horror Story:

American Horror Story: Murder House (S1) Promo
American Horror Story: Murder House (S1) Promo

In the TV series, American Horror Story (AHS), Brewer plays a range of characters. In season one, she plays Adelaide, the daughter of antagonist Constance (Jessica Lange), who lives a restricted life under the rule of her mother; in series three she plays Nan, a witch apart of a coven who falls in love with her neighbour next door; and in series four she plays Marjorie, a ventriloquist dummy.

For those who are unaware, AHS features exceptional actors who face challenging story lines of insanity with themes of horror. Each series is not interconnected, and uses the same actors but with different characters, locations and story lines. These include: a house with a murderous past, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, and an enigmatic hotel.

Brewer shows her true potential and growing skills as an actress through the high quality acting, and challenging narratives of the horror anthology.

Modelling:

In February 2015, Jamie Brewer became the first individual with Down's Syndrome to walk the cat walk of New York Fashion Week.

This is a huge step for those with DS and/or others disabilities and learning difficulties. The modelling industry is particularly known for its critique of the imperfections of the body - particularly towards females. Their critical attitude of this is exemplified through the airbrushing and editing of photos. Additionally, those who wish to model have to look a certain way: tall, thin, etc.

"It’s a true inspiration being a role model for any young women to [encourage them] in being who they are and showing who they are"

Brewer does not fit the typical mode stereotype and it is this, and the acceptance it brings to what is so wonderful about her cat walk (see image below).

Activism:

  • Brewer has been active in the Down Syndrome community. She is the youngest person with this condition to be elected President of the ARC of Fort Bend Chapter
  • Brewer served on the ARC Governmental Affairs Committee for the State of Texas
  • She spoke with Senators at the Texas State Capitol to persuade them to pass the law for Texas to abolish the word "retarded" from state legislation and to improve recognition of the needs of people with disabilities within the state. The effort was successful and Texas now uses the term "Intellectual Developmental Disability" in their legislation.
  • Involved with several non-profit organisations throughout America to raise awareness of Down's Syndrome

Jamie Brewer teaches us and important lesson: just because an individual does not fit into what is socially constructed to be 'normal', it does not mean they cannot achieve their dreams, goals, or career ambitions. She teaches us that anything can be achieved, and one has to have the determination and correct support to do so.

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