Angela was born in Oxford but now lives in Malta with her parents. For World Down Syndrome Day 2021 she made a music video with her friends called ‘6 Teens, 3 Extra Chromosomes, 1 Message’.
Angela loves writing, so we asked her to tell us all about herself.
Hi, I’m Angela and I’m 19 years old and I have Down’s syndrome. I live in Malta but I am half Italian and half Sri Lankan. I was born in Oxford and lived there for seven years. I then lived in Rome for five years before moving to Malta. I have completed my Advanced Diploma (BTEC Level 3) in Performing Arts at the Institute of Creative Arts in MCAST Malta. Before that I did my O-Levels, and left school with 6 O-Levels. I am now doing some of the units in the BA (degree) in Performing Arts at the same institute. I am an only child so after a while it does get boring especially in these days during the pandemic as I don’t go to school face-to-face anymore or meet up with my friends. I love writing and acting. I am represented by an agency called VisABLE People for acting. Apart from that I love to read and to swim especially in the summer where I do long swims in the sea. My speciality is to dive underneath the water and I can spend ages underneath without coming up.
Tell us about the video you made for World Down Syndrome Day.
For this video I decided to do something different from the usual. Usually, I think advocacy videos are organised by one of the Down’s syndrome organisations or parents and show only children who have Down’s syndrome so they are not too inclusive. In my case I decided to gather a few of my friends from Malta and one from Sri Lanka where my mum grew up to take part in this video. Three of us who have Down’s syndrome and three who didn’t.
It all started when I was attending some masterclasses run by the Commonwealth Children and Youth Disability Network on how to use social media for advocacy where they showed us a video of ‘50 mums 50 kids’ which really inspired me to do something like that as well. The title of my own video was also inspired by this as I called it ‘6 teens, 3 extra chromosomes, 1 message’. The three extra chromosomes are because there are three singers with Down’s syndrome, and each of us has an extra chromosome 🙂
The idea for the song came from a Netflix movie I watched called The Prom. The thing that really caught my eye was at the end of the movie when the credits were rolling, there was this song called ‘Wear your crown’. What I liked best about this song were the words, especially in the first part of the song as it says ‘your DNA is perfectly made’. This is because in Down’s syndrome there are three copies of Chromosome 21 so some people would say that this is not perfect!
How did it feel performing and being filmed?
It was not the first time that I was performing something. During the years that I have spent in Malta I attended and trained in the School of Performing Arts Malta for six years. For as long as I remember I have always enjoyed performing and being in front of people.
The first singer I invited was a friend of mine from Sri Lanka. We were connected on WhatsApp and discussed the project. After I gave her a few directions on what she was meant to do it was very quick for her to give me the piano accompaniment. Then she recorded herself singing to the song and sent it to me. After that I got in contact with one of my friends who has Down’s syndrome to see if she would like to sing and she agreed and brought on board her boyfriend as well, who also has Down’s syndrome. I then contacted several of my close friends who also attended the School of Performing Arts.
After I got the singers together, I first had to send out the lyrics of the song to have a read through. I then asked them which part they would like to sing and to record them from their houses (which is something a lot of performers are doing these days because of COVID-19). When I first recorded my part I sounded terrible and I was really out of tune but by practising it every day I improved and my pronunciation and diction became better even though there were a few times when I would get stuck on a word or forget something.
After that we sent all the videos to the editor where he did many different versions till the final one which is now on YouTube.
What did you do on World Down Syndrome Day?
I spent the whole day wearing mismatched socks and even went out in them. While I was walking I could see a few people including little children in their strollers throwing looks my way. This felt great as when I was in high school I had never really felt comfortable to wear mismatched socks for World Down’s Syndrome Day – I would roll my socks down and bury them in shoes so that no one could see them. So I was happy that this year I could go out proudly in them. Other than that I spent the day watching the views of the video going up. The video has had over 1800 views now!
Tell us about your advocacy work…
I’m an advocate not only for Down’s syndrome but for all learning disabilities alike. I also attend the Theatre Group of Opening Doors Association, which is for adults with disabilities. I was given the opportunity to do a series of blog posts for them titled ‘No Assumptions Please’. You can also see the rest of my advocacy activities at on my website
I also feel that it is important to raise awareness through performing arts especially for the little children so that they can grow up in a diverse environment and are used to seeing people who are different to them. In 2019 I got an Erasmus Mobility placement through my college that I spent in London. I volunteered at an inclusive theatre called Chickenshed where I took part in the performance for children programme called ‘Tales from the Shed’. These shows were lively and very interactive as the performers and audience share the same space within an inclusive environment. Each performance was fun because there would be puppets, interactive and educational games, singing and dancing. What I loved best about this theatre was that it catered for everyone from different backgrounds, skin colours, ethnic groups and disabilities. The team doing the performances had a mix of actors, including ones with disabilities such as Down’s syndrome.
Do you have any other hobbies?
Yes, I do. One of them is writing which is my favourite thing to do. In fact I have written and self-published four books and now I have two on the way and now I’m looking for them to get published.