In 2015, a young girl with Down syndrome successfully bagged two modeling contracts—all thanks to her “cheeky smile.” The agencies didn’t hesitate for a minute when they were told of her disability.
Connie-Rose Seabourne, then a 23-month-old, from Morley in the United Kingdom, was set to become Britain’s next top child model after winning two modeling contracts.
After many people told her mother, Julie Britton, in her 40s, that Connie-Rose should become a model, Britton decided to send Connie-Rose’s photographs to three agencies. To her amazement and delight, the agencies then contacted her to arrange for test photo shoots to see how the young girl would perform in front of the cameras.
Britton said: “I sent an email with a picture of Connie-Rose to a model agency to ask them if they were interested or whether I was just fooling myself. We got a response back straight away to say they were definitely interested.”
“When I spoke to the agencies about her Down’s Syndrome diagnosis, no one even batted an eyelid. I think I was more bothered about it than anyone else and it definitely doesn’t bother me!” she added.
Connie-Rose was born two months premature and was diagnosed with Down syndrome when she was 2 weeks old, but Britton and her husband were not shocked.
“I was assessed as being at higher risk of having a baby with Down’s Syndrome when I was pregnant and could have had the diagnostic test to find out but I didn’t want it because it just wasn’t an issue,” Britton said.
“We weren’t bothered at all. We have friends whose children have been diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome and have had nothing but positive experiences of children with the diagnosis. There’s so much support out there—it isn’t a problem. It’s just another little baby who needs to be loved,” she added.
So, how did Connie-Rose perform during the test shoots?
“She absolutely loved it. She follows direction very well and she has so much fun in front of the cameras. She’s already been given two contracts but we can’t say what for. She’s had so many photographs of her taken by me that she’s just used to it!” Britton said.
However, if her daughter decides she doesn’t want to be a model, Britton will fully support her decision.
“As soon as it gets too much for her or she doesn’t like it, we’ll stop. The first sign that she’s not enjoying it, we’ll stop. What she wants to do is the most important thing in all of this,” Britton said.
On Connie-Rose’s disability, Britton said: “We’ve had so much support from so many people and so many positive experiences. I do think people could perhaps be a little more educated about what wording to use. Connie-Rose’s disability does not define who she is.”
“She has Down’s Syndrome, it’s not that she is Down’s Syndrome. That’s the major problem we face but that’s about education,” she added.
Britton also visited hospital wards to help families whose children have Down syndrome as they might initially feel overwhelmed with the diagnosis.
“Some parents struggle with the idea of Down’s Syndrome initially and think that life isn’t going to be the same again. I try to explain just how much support there is out there for them,” she said.
“The inclusiveness and equality that my family has experienced has been amazing. It’s absolutely fantastic that Connie-Rose will be in the public eye—it’s just so positive,” she added.
Way to go, Connie-Rose! You’re so beautiful!