Meet James Martin, The First Actor With Down Syndrome to Win an Oscar

James Martin was one of the lead characters in An Irish Goodbye!

The 31-year-old Irish barista is the first actor with Down Syndrome to win an academy award for his live-action short film.

When James was born in March 1992, his father, Ivan Martin, was told by the doctors that he might never be able to speak.

However, his son not only learned to speak but also walked Hollywood’s biggest stage on his 31st birthday to receive his first-ever Oscar trophy.

James celebrated his 31st onstage on Sunday, March 13, during the 95th Academy Awards after his short drama film won the prestigious accolade.

An Irish Goodbye was a 2021 film – directed by Tom Berkley and Ross White, and its story revolved around two brothers (who were reunited after their mother’s passing.

While on stage, the short’s co-director, Tom Berkley, announced to the audience that it was James’s birthday, and everybody started singing “Happy Birthday, James.”

“This award is actually the second most important thing about today because it’s James’ birthday,” said Berkley.

“He’s out here in Hollywood wearing a leopard-print suit jacket. We would love to use the rest of our time up here to sing to James.”

Receiving so much love and appreciation from his team and people in the audience, Martin was so moved with joy; he gave a thumbs-up to the crowd.

After his win, his proud dad spoke to UTV, saying, “He has spent his life pushing the envelope. People are very good at saying, ’You can’t do this, and you can’t do that’… He’s done it, and he does it consistently.”

“I couldn’t believe it. I mean, we’re sitting at home pumping the air, you know, this is sensational,” he added.

Speaking to BBC for another interview, Ivan said his son proved everyone wrong who thought who would never speak and achieved so much success and he cannot be more proud of him.

“But here we are. James not only speaks, once he started speaking he hasn’t shut up since.”

James first became interested in acting as a career after joining the Belfast-based Babosh theatre company set up in the early 2000s to help kids with learning disabilities.

In 2017, Martin landed a role in the BBC drama Ups and Downs, in which he played a lead role opposite actress Susan Lynch.

The drama was about a young man with Down Syndrome who tricked his sister into going on a road trip with him to attend a concert while having no phone, money, or plan.

He then went on to become a part of the ITV and Netflix show, Marcella.

Martin is the first person in Hollywood to have won a BAFTA award and an Oscar.

“It doesn’t matter if you have Down syndrome, as long as you’re doing what you do. I do what I can to be funny,” he said.

Despite being an award-winning movie actor, James works as a coffee barista at a Starbucks outlet – he has been working at the company for the last ten years.

“I help out with all the customers. I’ve been doing that a long time. It’s nice,” he told Daily Mail before his big win in March.

According to the publication, “The actor keeps himself busy, also working in local restaurant Scalini’s as a chef.”

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Sources: Daily MailBBCUTV

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