Glee star, Lauren Potter, visits UIS


Today, acting is a desirable and rewarding career that thrives in the dreams of many. It takes skill, stamina, endurance, and determination to achieve that dream. For any person, this career path would present major challenges, but imagine entering the world of acting with an intellectual disability. Lauren Potter, an actress who plays Becky Jackson on the popular television show “Glee,” knows exactly how it feels to achieve what seems to others an impossible dream for her.

On Oct. 27, 2014, Lauren Potter stood in front of a crowd of college students at UIS and described her amazing story. At birth she was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Down’s Syndrome is a congenital disorder caused by a chromosome defect. It causes intellectual disability as well as physical abnormalities. Potter explained that she was unable to walk until her second birthday. However, this did not stop her from developing her dreams.

“My parents told me I was dancing before I could even walk,” Potter declared with enthusiasm. Though she could not travel, she would stand up in her crib and “rock out” while her parents played music. She went on to describe her first dance recital, which occurred at the age of three. She was the only child out of her dance group to blow kisses to the audience, which earned her a standing ovation. This was the moment that Potter realized her dream was to be an actress.As she grew, Potter became more and more determined to achieve her goals, even in the face of incredulity. At the age of 16, Potter auditioned for a role in “Mr. Blue Sky.” She received the part and got her first taste of the acting life. She loved everything about it, from her fellow actresses to being on stage.

One day, she got a call from a good friend of hers who worked in Hollywood. A new upcoming show called “Glee” needed someone to portray a cheerleader.

Potter saw this as an amazing opportunity. She had always wanted to be a cheerleader but when she tried out in high school she did not make the team. Potter described the “Glee” audition as “a lot of fun and hard work.” There were 13 other girls who were going after the part, but Potter believed that she was the right actress for the job. Her belief proved to be correct. She was very pleased to find out that she had gotten the part. She fondly discussed her love of “Glee” and all of the people she works with.

In addition to “Glee,” Lauren Potter advocates for an end to bullying. The inspiration that fuels her involvement stems from the childhood bullying to which she was subjected. She was bullied horrifically by being physically pushed down and made to eat sand. Potter does not want any other person to have to go through that type of degradation. She has worked with organizations such as Best Buddies, started a campaign to stop the use of the “R-word,” and is planning to be an ambassador for the 2015 Special Olympics. She also announced that President Obama chose her to lead a committee for those with intellectual disabilities.

“I am so honored that President Obama trusts me to lead the committee for those with intellectual disabilities,” Potter said with reverence.

Lauren Potter’s parting words were perhaps the most memorable point of the whole night. “I had to work hard in life to overcome the challenges, bullying, and pressures. But I consider myself lucky to be living my dreams. I have a job that I absolutely love and I am able to make a difference.”

Though Potter has a disability, she refuses to allow that to impede her goals. Now, after achieving her dreams, she wants to help others to do the same.