Meet James Martin, the First Actor With Down Syndrome to Win an Oscar
When James Martin was born, doctors told his parents that he might never speak. However, he did not only learn to speak, but 31 years later, on his birthday, he walked on Hollywood’s biggest stage to collect his Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film, An Irish Goodbye. James became the first actor with Down syndrome to win an Academy Award. And, as icing on the cake, the entire audience sang “Happy Birthday” to him.
James Martin never let his condition hold him back.
James Martin’s father, Ivan Martin, is very proud of his son and revealed that he does everything with great gusto, and he’s very glad that his efforts have paid off.
“He has spent his life pushing the envelope. People are very good at saying, ’You can’t do this, and you can’t do that’... He’s done it, and he does it consistently,” he said.
Martin is the first person with Down syndrome to win not just a BAFTA but an Oscar too, and he’s very proud of himself. “It doesn’t matter if you have Down syndrome, as long as you’re doing what you do. I do what I can to be funny,” he said.
His girlfriend also supports him and says the win was a magical moment. “It shows to everyone that it’s changing your mindset on how people with disabilities can achieve as much as everyone else can,” she declared.
For the past 10 years, Martin has been working at Starbucks.
His co-workers and manager at Starbucks are very proud of Martin and his acting success, and to support him, good-luck posters were placed in the coffee chain’s city stores.
However, Martin’s dad revealed that despite the fame, he doesn’t see his son quitting his job as a barista anytime soon.
Martin caught the acting bug after he joined the Belfast-based Babosh theatre company for children with learning disabilities.
There, Martin did all types of shows, and he enjoyed every moment spent there. This was a stepping stone for him, as he later managed to land the lead role in Ups and Downs, starring alongside actress Susan Lynch.
Martin then went on to land a role in the series, Marcella, but his role in An Irish Goodbye, which won him both a BAFTA and an Oscar, is his most high-profile role to date.