Thursday, September 14, 2017

"Be nicer to people, President Trump!" An interview with the stars of Born This Way

I recently got an opp to interview a few of the stars of Born This Way. As on TV, they spoke their minds and hearts, sharing thoughts on raising children with Down syndrome and bullying—along with a few choice words for our president.

The series, which follows the lives of a group of young adults with Down syndrome living in Southern California, has raised awareness and busted stereotypes about having a disability, and helped people see why inclusion should be the rule, not the exception. It racked up six Emmy nominations this year, including one for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program (which it won last year).

The cast continues to score individual successes. Sean McElwee has started his own clothing line, Seanese. Rachel Osterbach is pursuing her dreams as an actress. John Tucker, an aspiring rapper/musician, is working on several original songs and will be collaborating with DSON, a rapper. The three also do speaking engagements, both in the U.S. and worldwide.

Here they are, not holding back.

Born This Way has helped people better understand what life with Down syndrome is like. But what do you think people still don't get?

Rachel: "I think that people still do not understand that people with Down Syndrome can really live independently."

Sean: "Probably that we have help to do the things we want to do and I have a job coach, a supported-living staff and they drive me places and help me shop and everything. And Chef Gino helps me cook too."

John: "Born This Way has helped people see that even though we have Down syndrome we have goals and dreams. We are just like everyone, we want to succeed."

Sean McElwee
What advice do you have for parents raising children with Down syndrome?  

Sean: "Let your kids try things they want to even if you don't think they can do it because they might be able to with practice. My mom and dad helped sign me up for things I wanted to try like singing and dancing and sports and acting. And I couldn't even talk very good but she signed me up anyway."

John: "Be patient and helpful with a child even if it seems their dream is unattainable. Try harder, you will get a answer one way or another."

Rachel: "My advice is not to be scared—don't limit your child, give them a chance to be included in the world and to show what they can do. My parents have always loved me for who I am, and that is the most important thing."

Rachel Osterbach
If President Trump were to appear in an episode of Born This Way, what would you tell him face to face?  

John: "It's not fair to make fun of people with disability. It hurts."

Sean: "I would tell him not to take away my services that help me be independent and to not be rude. And I would tell him to let me be the next president and show him how to respect everybody."

Rachel: "If President Trump came on the show I would say to him, 'What you are doing in this world is not right. You need to pull yourself together and be nicer to people!' I would talk to him in private about showing people with Down syndrome more respect. I think Trump needs therapy. I think I should be the next president! I will be 35 in December, so after that I can be president."

John Tucker
In recent years, there has been a push to end the use of the r-word. What do you have to say about it? 

Rachel: "I do not like the r-word, and people should not use it. It is not nice to say that to anybody—it is really bullying someone when you do that. Someone called me the r-word in high school, they called me a 'retard' and I felt uncomfortable and upset."

John: "The r-word is degrading to anyone with or without a disability. It is as offensive as the n-word."

Sean: "Let's end it. I hate that word. Nobody ever called me that but I hear it and it makes me sad."

UPDATE: Born This Way won two Emmys, for Casting for a Reality Program and Cinematogrophy for a Reality Program. Rachel and John made history by becoming the first individuals with Down syndrome to present an aware at a major televised award show.


  1. Same thing could be said about Hillary Clinton............who has actually USED the "r-word"

    1. Justin,

      I was able to look up that a childhood sweetheart of William Jefferson heard HRC use the word at the Arkansas Arc in 1984 during a Governor's Easter Egg Hunt.

      She is alleged to have made fun of the children going so very slowly even though they were having a great time.

      Source: - first link from Google. I do not know that site well enough to establish whether it is credible, it can slip through to the pitcher or it is fake news.

      Of course I was looking for incidents during 1992-2000 and 2008 when she ran as New York Senator. And in this campaign - 2016.

      And Barack Obama and Raun Emanuel and their Special Olympics comments.

    2. Justin Mattis knock it off they didnt ask these guys About their opinion about Hillary it was a legit question to them about Trump & these answer were their feelings about Trump which has showed total disrespect towards people with disabilities Believe it or not Trump is the true baby Killer he believes in abortion as a choice & abortion up to partial birth the trumpcon has fed you people so much bs line sinker & hooked its really unbelievable people always trying to deflect & defend trump who does not belong in our White House he had no respect for it or for the majority of this Country he doesn't even accept his one daughter Tiffany by his 2nd wife Marla to a certain extent he has made discusting remarks about his own flesh & blood think about that for a min he says that she isn't even that attractive because you know he judges everything based on looks crowd sizes measures of success he is very delusional & he is rude like Rachael, Sean & John said I think that assement was actually too kind so leave Hillary out of this because she would help these folks out before Trumpcon ever would

    3. Unknown; Justin; readers:

      I trust that people on the right have come to the right and stay on the right for the right reasons - their reasons and the community's reasons. Just like people who are left and centrist.

      No - Trump does not have a lot of respect for the office of the executive branch of the United States.

      Tiffany is studying at law school this year. HRC congratulated her and chatted with her.

      This is all from WHAT HAPPENED which I have just read, Unknown and Justin.

      If there was one weakness in that book from my point of view it was that disability policy was not covered.

      There were references to her work in the Children's Fund in the 1960s and 1970s when she graduated from Wellesley.

      When the 2017 commencement person spoke up and talked about flawed emeralds and resilience it was so good.

      And Marla wasn't Trump's best, was she? I mean, she was good in her own right. I had had so much hope in 1993 when she first came on the scene.

      All too true about abortion/termination.

      Deflection is a bad thing and not a good debating tactic, that is true. On the other hand, conversations flow.

      Again in WHAT HAPPENED - HRC made a point about False Balance which is a cognitive or a logical fallacy which the news media and journalism tends to commit too often.

      And the USA is far from the only nation which seeks to end anomalous lives pre- and post- natally. Diversity and divergence are now rare commodities and devalued.

      Who would have thought that Iceland - the nation of the banks and the volcano explosion - would be the first to eliminate people with Trisomy 21?

      Close upon are Denmark and France. Both those nations had targets from 2020-2030.

      And Breitbart and related organisations have done much of the feeding. And Stormfront of course.

      I had a fear that Justin had been captured in some way by the alt-right which fed into his pre-existing patriotism/nationalism.

      Naomi Klein has written NO IS NOT ENOUGH and she and her fellow Canadians are taking THE LEAP. And there's lots of good stuff about the Great Barrier Reef. If the Born This Way crew want to come to Australia and do the touristy things...

      A good HRC site is and she did write about superPACs [Political Action Coalitions].

      It does appear that HRC regrets not being able to connect with working-class white women in particular like her Mum once was. Read Dorothy's story - it's wonderful. And some of these women connected with Trump and stayed with Trump.

      Most people who voted for HRC had incomes of less than $50,000US.

      Also the e-mails are covered. She explains what the Federal Bureau of Investigation did; what Team Trump did and what she and her team did.

      Perseverance; competition; sisterhood; idealism and realism; frustration and resilience are all highly valued in WHAT HAPPENED. And of course - radical empathy. In which no-one and no assessment is considered "too kind" or "too cruel".

  2. What would it be like to have the 47th President with 47 chromosomes?

    Sean and Rachel - what a campaign that would be.

    And the "Born this way" platform.

    The entrepreneurship among this lot is awesome.

    I would vote for Rachel and I hope Trump does get this therapy and consultation.

  3. I would say to president trump that people with down syndrome do have a voice to and it matter and I am against bullying for people with a disability and I am against bullying for the LGBTQ community and don't cut the service that people who have a disability we use that to be independent I will vote for Rachel so trump can get therapy and consultation

    1. Thank you Courtney!

      I also am against bullying when it comes to the LGBTQ community.

      Benjamin Law's MORAL PANIC 101: THE SAFE SCHOOLS SCANDAL is a good read and think.

      Yes - Trump does need to hear this voice.

      An anti-bullying platform is a good one. It does need to be pro-kindness.


Thanks for sharing!

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