Model With Down Syndrome Jamie Brewer Makes Fashion Week History

"Embrace the fear and go for it," says Jamie Brewer.

ByABC News
February 13, 2015, 6:18 AM

— -- Backstage at New York Fashion Week 2015, actress Jamie Brewer was tweeting pictures of herself as she was getting primped and primed for her runway debut.

“Make-Up Time,” she tweeted. Then “Hair Time Now.”

The pictures showed a young woman with a sweet, round face and big eyes, known for her role in “American Horror Story.”

“Embrace the fear and go for it,” Brewer said. “That’s what I do. I don’t run from it, I embrace the fear.”

On TV, Brewer said she had conquered many fears, including “a drowning scene, attack of zombies, getting hit by a car ... in the first season, being dead and being dragged.”

But Thursday she was doing something she never thought she’d do. She was about to make history as the first model with Down Syndrome to walk the Fashion Week runway.

From Activist to Actress

Brewer was one of a dozen women carefully selected by designer Carrie Hammer to shatter model stereotypes. Billed as “Role Models Not Runway Models,” the show featured CEOs and marketing executives, philanthropists and bankers, computer coders and even a senior vice president whose job title at an ad agency was “Global Chief Creativity Catalyst.”

But of all the women at the top of their game, the star was Jamie Brewer.

“Jamie is an incredible actress and also an activist, an artist and a writer who just happens to have Down syndrome ... but that doesn’t define her,” Hammer said. “She’s an incredible role model for many, many people.”

In addition to being a successful actress, Hammer is also an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities. At 19 she was elected to the State of Texas ARC Board, and she also worked with the Governmental Affairs Committee for the State of Texas, as the only member with a disability.

”I’m a huge advocate for individuals with disabilities,” Brewer said. “Changing the minds of individuals [so they] get a better understanding of individuals that do have disabilities.”

PHOTO: Actress Jamie Brewer, center, backstage at Role Models Not Runway Models show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015 on February 12, 2015 in New York City.
Actress Jamie Brewer, center, backstage at Role Models Not Runway Models show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015 on February 12, 2015 in New York City.

“If you work at it, you can achieve it”

The activist turned actress prepared Thursday for her turn as a fashion model. “If you work at it, you can achieve it,” she said simply.

“We’re all really, really excited,” said designer Carrie Hammer. “I’m not nervous at all ‘cause everyone’s awesome.”

As the music swelled the models walked the catwalk one by one, posing at the end for pictures, then walking back. Poised and confident – some slightly nervous - they were dressed in stylish, classy clothes designed specifically for them.

The last to walk was Brewer. Wearing a black, V-neck dress cinched at the waist inspired by “American Horror Story,” she bounded onto the stage with a big smile and unbridled energy. In a blur of perpetual motion, she twirled, pointed her finger at the audience, shimmied and shook - all signature dance moves she said she created in honor of her costars.

At the end of the runway, Brewer raised her hands in the air and with a triumphant fist-pump, strode off the stage. The audience members cheered, some with tears in their eyes.

“Put Your heart and soul into it”

“Jamie really shows everyone that you can become what you imagine,” Hammer told ABC News. “I hope that, watching her, young women know they can become anything, do anything. Your circumstances don’t define you.”

“Take the risk. Take the chance. Put your heart and soul into it, because when you put your soul into it, you will become what you’ve always dreamed,” Brewer said. “You, yourself, will become a legend.”

ABC News' Erin O’ Brown contributed to this story.