New Show On ABC Features A Character With Down Syndrome

In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent how important media representation is for everyone. Not only can the media be a vital tool to raise awareness of the plight of a marginalized group of people and counter widespread stigmas, but positive representation can have an amazing impact on an individual’s self-esteem. Studies have indicated that when individuals see themselves in the characters on movie or television screens, they feel good about themselves.

For people with disabilities, seeing characters who are like them in the media they watch is a rarity. While about 10% of the world’s population, about 650 million people, live with a disability, less than 1% of TV characters had a disability as of 2016. Out of that tiny sliver of characters, only 4.5% of them were actually played by actors with the character’s disability.

The accurate portrayal of a character with a disability is as important as the existence of that character. It can help the general public develop more positive attitudes towards people with disabilities and inspire people with disabilities to pursue goals of being in the media themselves.

A new show on ABC will soon boost representation for people who have Down syndrome. “Stumptown” is a new drama based on Greg Rucka’s graphic novel series of the same name. It follows ex-military private investigator Dex Parios, played by Cobie Smulders. Dex’s brother has Down syndrome and is played by “Born This Way” star Cole Sibus, an actor with Down syndrome. Sibus’s character, Ansel Parios, will be a regular on the show. The plots will focus on Dex’s gambling debt and complicated love life as well as her relationship with Ansel as both sibling and caretaker.

While Sibus is just doing his job as an actor, he is also providing important and authentic representation to the small screen and celebrating Down syndrome. This is Sibus’s first appearance on a major television network, but this is far from his first experience celebrating Down syndrome in front of a camera. He has appeared in various film, television, and theater productions. His career started with the Emmy Award-winning docuseries “Born This Way” on AandE. He was also in the 2018 film Spare Room as Arrow, a role for which he won the Upstream Spotlight award at the Riverbend Film Festival.

“Stumptown” premiered on ABC on Sept 25 and will continue showing Wednesday evenings at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Check out the show to see Sibus work his magic in his new role and indulge in the all-too-rare moment of celebrating Down syndrome representation on your TV screen.