You Light Up My Life
You might have seen Amanda Booth on television shows like Hot in Cleveland and Community. She’s also been featured on the cover of Vogue and in ad campaigns for Lancôme, Target, and True Religion – to name a few. Born in Watertown, New York (her family traveled a lot but they usually ended up in Pennsylvania), she “grew up wanting to model.” She was so determined to get on the path that she shared her own modeling photos online. “I’m pretty sure 99 percent of the things they were asking for on the website were not legitimate,” she says, jokingly. Nevertheless, she persevered and constantly emailed agencies until she was finally signed (“Not an easy start for sure, but I’m still here somehow”).
In addition to Booth’s modeling career, she is also known through her social-media advocacy. This fierce 33-year-old mother is working hard to represent the Down syndrome community. Just 5 years ago, she found out that her newborn son Micah had Down syndrome, and since then, she hasn’t stopped working with the community and connecting with other families like hers. “[The diagnosis] was very shocking. I was young, and statistically, it wasn’t a very common thing to have. I had never met anyone with Down syndrome. I just had no idea what it meant or what life would look like,” she recalls. However, mostly because of social media and “the ability of using it as a tool for understanding and meeting other families whose lives looked like ours,” she was able to see firsthand adults and kids with Down syndrome that were thriving and just doing day-to-day things. “You can build a community and support system through the help of social media. All of our fears quickly vanished after exploring the diagnosis more,” says Booth.
Booth wants to let the world know that people with this diagnosis aren’t alike and that we must get to know them as people and learn their strengths and weaknesses – rather than just focusing on their diagnosis. “Emotionally, they are people first, and the condition is second,” she adds. Her honest and intimate posts on social media serve as inspiration and encouragement to other parents who share similar experiences raising their kids with Down syndrome. Her advice is to make sure you have an amazing support system. “When you have people to talk to and understand you, I think it’s really the key to [getting] through parenting, no matter what your child is like or going through,” she says.
Micah and his story – showing that he is so much more than his diagnosis – have garnered a large public following. At just 11 months old, he followed in his mother’s footsteps and signed a contract with an agency to model. “He just naturally gravitates towards the atmosphere and really enjoys it,” describes Booth. “It’s pretty cool. People are giving him attention and applauding him, and there are strobing lights. It’s such a wonderful experience to him, and he just lights up like a Christmas tree.”
Writer: Gavy Contreras
Photographer: Paul Brickman
Photographer Assistant: Tom Lucein
Stylist: Eric Owes
Hair & Makeup: Diane Dusting
Videographer: Mark Arroyo
Editor: Eiko Watanabe
Special thanks to Cafe 86 (@cafe_86 - www.cafe-86.com) & EPK Media (@myepk & @epkmedia - epkmedia.com)