Actress Kennedy Garcia shares that Down syndrome can be a blessing – Interview!
Kennedy Garcia is from Tennessee and diagnosed with Down syndrome hours after she was born — and at 3 years old battled Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Thirty surgeries later, which included spinal fusion surgery, this young teen is shattering the glass ceiling and proving to the world that people with disabilities can do anything!
Starting out as a model, Kennedy was discovered by American Girl becoming the first model with Down syndrome to work for the iconic brand. That led to a campaign with Kenzie Ziegler for Justice as well as campaigns for Claire’s, Disney, and many more. Commercially she can be seen in campaigns for Instagram and USA Tourism, as well as a role on the hit show This is Us.
Listed as one of the top 10 actors with Down syndrome, Kennedy shines brightest when she is on the dance floor whether competing or just dancing for the sheer joy it gives her. A sought-after public speaker, she talks candidly about her journey as well as teaching people how to be friends with someone with a disability.
This young influencer gives back to her community by working with several nonprofits supporting both Down syndrome and childhood cancer. Her enthusiasm for life is evident in everything she does whether it’s walking the runway, shooting a film, or posing for the camera. A typical teen, Kennedy enjoys making TikTok videos, hanging out with friends, and going to the movies.
Let’s get to know Kennedy Garcia better in her Q&A below!
Hello Kennedy, nice to e-meet you! For those unfamiliar with you, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background outside of the world of showbiz.
My name is Kennedy, I’m 17. Some things you should know about me are that I am a dancer, I’m a cancer survivor, I have Down syndrome, and I’m a pretty typical teenager. I love my life. It’s a fun one!
You’ve got some impressive modelling and commercial credits under your belt for being so young. What do you credit your success to?
I work really hard and never give up. I also have an amazing team behind me.
For those who aren’t really familiar with Down Syndrome, what can you tell them so they understand what makes a person with Down Syndrome different/unique?
People with Down syndrome are pretty much like you. You just have to take the time to get to know us. We might struggle with some things but give us time. We can do anything you can do. And we make awesome friends! Just go over and say hello. It could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you as a person with Down syndrome?
I guess that I want to be friends with everyone and sometimes people only see that I have Down syndrome and don’t give me a chance. I wish they could get to know ME and see what an amazing person I am beyond my diagnosis.
And the biggest blessing?
It makes me special. It makes me who I am. And I love me!
What has been your most memorable moment in show biz so far?
Running into Sterling K. Brown (literally!) on the Paramount Studios lot. I was so shocked! (And my mom cried!) He was so kind to me.
Best advice you have gotten so far in your career?
Keep acting and don’t give up. For every yes there will be 100 Nos.
Who are your role models?
Jane Levy, Camryn Grimes, Carolyn Hennesy, Caterina Scorsone.
Long-term career goals?
To have my own show!
Biggest pet peeve?
When my brother steals my blanket!
What’s your dream role to play as an actress?
I would love to be on Stranger Things or Grey’s Anatomy or Young and the Restless!
Favorite item in your room/purse/backpack that you use or rely on WAY too much?
My notebooks and pens! I take them everywhere! I love colored gel pens!
Stairs that have holes through the back. Ha!
Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you.
I’m really short. I’m only 4’7”.
The one thing I cannot live without is__________.
My family and my boyfriend, Matthew.
Tell me ONE food you REFUSE to eat and why?
Anything with gluten because it makes me sick.
What else are you working on or have coming up next?
I am filming a new movie called The Son this Spring. I’m very excited because I have a pretty big role in it! I can’t wait to get on set.
Photo Credits: JCM Photography @photosbyjcm on IG