“Glee” actress Lauren Potter to present public talk

Lauren Potter, the 24-year-old actress with Down syndrome best known for playing the role of cheerleader Becky Jackson on the hit TV show “Glee,” will talk about all she has overcome to pursue her dreams and her ongoing commitment to make a difference in the world when she gives a public lecture at Salve Regina this week.

Potter, a staunch advocate for disability rights who serves as a member of President Obama’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, will give her talk, followed by a Q-and-A, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 18 in the Bazarsky Lecture Hall.

Potter has traveled around the country to speak out against bullying that the intellectually disabled community confronts on a daily basis. She serves on the Board of Best Buddies International, has participated in the Abilitypath.org campaign against bullying, partnered with the Special Olympics in their “End the Word” campaign, and is currently lending her name and fame to numerous organizations, including the Down Syndrome Association and the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Potter made her acting debut in the 2007 movie “Mr. Blue Sky,” playing the part of young Andra Little. She has also appeared on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” In 2012, she was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award in the “Ensemble in a Comedy Series” category for her work on “Glee.” She was also honored with the SAG/AFTRA Harold Russell Award at the 2012 Media Access Awards.

“As a girl who has accomplished things that many didn’t think were possible, I know that people can be wrong when they judge someone else just because they are different,” she told the Huffington Post in an interview published last June. “We are all different. And that isn’t bad, it’s just, well, different.”

She went on to say: “Because of ‘Glee’ I have been given a chance to pursue another dream of mine – to make the world a more welcoming place for people who are different – especially for people like me who have always been told ‘you can’t’ instead of ‘you can.’ I want to live in a world where everyone can live, go to school and go to work without having to be afraid. Afraid of being judged, afraid of being bullied or cyber-bullied. Afraid of new things. Afraid of failure. Afraid of dreaming.”

2 comments

  1. Eleonora Michael says:

    I will not say ‘I know what she went through’ because I honestly cannot not know but what I can say is that I can relate because I was born prematurely at 28 weeks and this has left me with some minor ‘disabilities’ if you’d like. I was judged and bullied in junior school and then again through middle school. There were times in my life where I felt inferior to everyone else I was afraid to go out of the toilets during breaks because all my classmates would stare at me and that would make me feel bad . After school I would go home and skip meals because I would be in my room crying my eyes out because I felt rejected, alone and misunderstood.
    In time i realized that I was expecting too much from my classmates , they judged because they never knew what it was like to have had two very big operations between the ages of five to nine , the pain I went through both physical but also emotional. I would smile in front of my parents because i wanted to show them that i was ok and that i was willing to fight for the best , this would make them both feel a sense of safety and pride that they slept on the hospitals uncomfortable chairs two days straight with minimal food and drink just so that they could hold my hand throughout those times.
    I learned to accept and embrace my ‘disability’ and I realized that normal does not really exist because each person is unique in their own kind of way. Everyone is their own kind of normal. Once you learn to accept certain things about yourself you don’t like it will not affect you anymore and people around will also sense that , if you show them that you don’t care about what they think they willl then treat you as ‘normal’.
    People bare their own cross however big or small. Just for that we are all exceptional creatures.
    Ms Potter is an admirable person ! She has been through so much but never gave up the fight and that is what counts; to never give up!

    • Tony LoPresti says:

      Thank you, Eleonora, for sharing your story. It’s very brave and generous of you to reveal intimate and vulnerable parts of your life, especially after you have been judged harshly in the past. I think you are correct that people sometimes behave poorly when they are encounter what is unfamiliar; sometimes this springs out of people’s own insecurities. We would do well to be more accepting and more in tune to identifying people’s strengths, rather than distancing ourselves and finding fault. I think when people like you share your story, that nudges us a little closer to be our better selves. Thank you.

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