James Martin, 26 who has Down’s syndrome won the Best Actor award at the Hollywood International Diversity Film Festival for his lead role in the BBC NI drama series, Ups and Downs. James’ win comes fresh off the back of his award for Best Actor at the New York City Film Festival for his role in Ups and Downs.
In support of World Down’s Syndrome Day, James hopes these achievements will help encourage others with disabilities to consider a career in the film and TV industry.
“I am over the moon to be given this recent award and so grateful for the opportunity. My character really wants his voice to be heard and to live an independent life, which I can relate to. I’ve never let my disability hold me back and I hope I can help other people in similar positions know they can achieve anything.”
Although James has been acting since he was a teenager, this is his first film role having impressed the writer and director, Eoin Cleland in his audition. James is now set to continue his onscreen career later this year when he stars in the new series of Marcella starting in Spring.
Charlotte Armitage, YAFTA MD added: “We are delighted to welcome James to the YAFTA Talent Agency family ahead of this fantastic win. We are a huge supporter of championing fair representation in the sector for talented individuals and James is doing a fantastic job not only on screen, but also inspiring others with disabilities to pursue their dream.”
James has addressed the European Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly about growing up with a learning disability and last November he was made an ambassador for Belfast for “bringing honour to the city”.