Sean from Born This Way and his mother Sandra McElwee #speakup4CTFOB
In the wake of the May 16 return of A&E network’s Emmy Award winning documentary series Born This Way, we were thrilled to have a chance to talk to cast member Sean and his mother Sandra about their experiences #changingthefaceofbeauty. The show, which chronicles the lives of young adults living with Down Syndrome in the LA area as they navigate friendships, romantic relationships, work, following their dreams and gaining independence, has given Sean and other people with disabilities a chance to show what their lives are really like.
Sean, the self-proclaimed “ladies man,” has been very busy lately. In addition to starring on Born This Way and making public appearances, he has launched his own retail business seanese.com, which donates 10% of profits from sales to a different disability non-profit every month. His mother Sandra continues to advocate for her son in order to make sure he has the best life possible. She is also the author of three books chronicling Sean’s life, which can be found at https://sandramcelwee.com.
Despite their full schedules, they were more than happy to answer some questions for us!
Q: How would you describe yourself?
A: I’m a really big ladies man, but just for now till I meet the right girl. I’m a business man with my own company I just started–check it out. I’m fun , sexy and I love burritos.
Q: What has your life been like since you joined the cast of Born This Way?
A: I’m a lot busier and get invited to appearances and speaking engagements and pose with ladies for pictures and get a lot of Q&A. And get recognized everywhere I go.
Q: What do you want people to know about you and about Down Syndrome?
A: I want people to know that having Down syndrome isn’t that bad and that we want everything everyone else does and people shouldn’t be afraid of us at all.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A: Doing my own tv show. Married with my own house on the beach with my dream girl.
Q: Why do you support Changing the Face of Beauty?
A: Because all ladies are beautiful especially ones with Down syndrome. And everyone should know it and see them in ads.
Q: How has Sean impacted your life?
A: Well–having a baby–any baby changes your life significantly. Having Sean has taken my faith and my rebel spirit to a whole new level.
Q: What advice would you give to expecting mothers who are first learning that their children have a disability?
A: That the future is so bright and If they can avoid the doom and gloom predictions–and dream big for their babies that their children will go much farther than they can imagine now. I truly believe the low expectations set by medical professionals who deliver the diagnosis can set the trajectory of the child’s life and when the parents feel hopeless they can’t see “why” they should advocate for their kids.
Q: Can you please describe your experience advocating on behalf of Sean when he was growing up?
A: Well…I’ve written two books about it! LOL
In school i experienced a lot of success in elementary school–Sean’s pioneering Inclusion in his school resulted in transforming his school to an inclusive school. But Intermediate and high school was a big roller coaster with so many disappointments and failures on my part. I learned how to write Civil Rights Complaints, IEP Compliance Complaints but never learned how to turn a black heart to sunshine.
Q: Where do you see Sean heading in the next five years?
A: If you had asked me this 5 years ago my predictions would have been so wrong. He is more in charge of his life than ever and my job is to be his Chief Dream Facilitator. And he’s pretty creative. So I don’t even think I’m qualified to make any predictions any more.
Q: In your opinion, what can be done to increase visibility for the disability community?
A: Media–television, print ads, commercials, TELEVISION! Nothing is more powerful than television. And the more we can include people with disabilities in mainstream tv shows the more comfortable the general public will become — Inclusion in school is so critical because the future managers, doctors, PRODUCERS, Writers, and casting agents will be comfortable around people with disabilities — hiring, treating–and creating roles in tv shows. Inclusion from the beginning is critical.
Q: How do you and Sean support Changing the Face of Beauty?
A: Sean just started his own business and we are donating 10%of profits every month to a different organization that is making a difference for people with Down syndrome and Changing the Face of Beauty will be the recipients in April 2018!
Both Sean and Sandra are committed to raising awareness for the disability community, and we are so grateful for their support in Changing The Face of Beauty. If you #speakup4CTFOB, we would love to hear your story!