American Horror Story star talks disability awareness

Jamie Brewer, an actress best known for her roles on American Horror Story, came to Carleton on Nov. 25 to deliver a talk about her path through the entertainment industry.

Brewer, an actress with Down syndrome, talked about working with her disability and her advocacy work for others with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

“Together we can all advocate for a healthier and more inclusive tomorrow,” she told the crowd.

She also took questions from the audience and discussed celebrity crushes, future projects, and demonstrated her Wicked Witch of the West impression.

Before the talk, Brewer held a meet-and-greet with five winners of a contest put together by the Carleton Disability Awareness Centre (CDAC). To earn the chance to meet her, entrants had to answer two questions: create a character with a disability or describe a favourite character or celebrity with a disability, and provide a question they wanted to ask Brewer.

The winners included three students and two parents of children with Down syndrome. Here, they were able to interact with Brewer directly and got a chance to play “Two Truths and a Lie” with her.

Herman Wong, a first-year journalism student, was one of the winners of the contest.

American Horror Story is probably my favourite show, and when I found out [Brewer] was coming to Carleton, I was very excited because I think she’s one of the most talented and courageous people in her field right now,” Wong said.

Having Brewer speak was “amazing”, according to Celine Brown, one of the co-ordinators from CDAC.

“We really just wanted to have an event where we could have both people with disabilities and without disabilities be able to relate to the same person and bring everyone together,” Brown said.

Key themes for Brewer throughout the evening included the ideas of encouragement, support, and global inclusion.

“Follow your dreams. Always use your voice to ask for help when you need it, always listen to family and friends who will encourage you, even though it might seem like they are bugging you,” she said.

As an advocate for the disabled community, Brewer was instrumental in eliminating the use of the word “retard” in Texas legislation in favour of language supportive of those with developmental and intellectual disabilities, according to an email interview with Brewer.

“There’s always room to grow,” she said. “We need to have a global change in removing the ‘r’ term within every legislative bylaw to ‘Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities.’” Brewer said.

Brewer’s beliefs about inclusion and support were summed up when asked about what her own TV show would be like. She said her top priority in a TV show would be “inclusion of different disabilities and disorders in a dramatic comedy.”

“There’s talent out there in each and every one of us,” she said.