Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Get to know up-and-coming actor with Down syndrome, Danny Alsabbagh, who stars on Australian comedy, Summer Heights High, on HBO

Media dis&dat note: I heard about this series in Dec. 2010 from an NYU student. Many apologies for the delay posting. But the series is still available in reruns on HBO.

The synopsis from TV.com:

Summer Heights High is the outrageously funny high school comedy created and written by Chris Lilley, creator of We Can Be Heroes.

The mockumentary series documents the ups and downs of three different characters, all played by Lilley, over one school term at Summer Heights High - Jonah, a 13 year-old delinquent breakdancer from Tonga; Mr G, and ego-driven Drama teacher with delusional showbiz dreams; and Ja'mie, a stuck up private schoolgirl on a student exchange.

Summer Heights High has won two Australian Film Institute Awards and two Logie Awards.

Here's a story about Danny Alsabbagh when he won Hobson's Bay Young Citizen of the Year in Australia. The Hobson's Bay Leader story from 2008:

The teenager who plays Toby from the hit ABC TV series Summer Heights High is one of Hobsons Bay’s Young Citizens of the Year.

Danny, 18, received the accolade together with local hip hop group Fusian Dance Alliance in recognition of being a shining and “inspiring” example to others.

“A student with Down syndrome, Danny is part of the council’s Be Yourself program; a recreational-based support program for young people with mild to moderate disabilities,” Hobsons Bay Mayor Bill Baarini said.

“Danny’s involvement in Summer Heights High is an inspiring example of how anyone can follow their dream, regardless of a disability.”

Danny’s mother, Roula Alsabbagh, said she and her family were very proud of his achievement.

“I was the proudest mum ever when they (the council) told me the news,” Mrs Alsabbagh said.

“I actually cried. To see him achieve this for himself; it’s fantastic.

“It means a lot to him and our family. He’s happy and he enjoys what he does. They’re the most important things.”

Danny said he was “very happy” to receive the award. “This award means that I have done something good and been recognised for it,” he said.

He said that, to others dealing with overcoming or living with adversity, the award showed that “you always have to try”.

Danny said the support from his family and his school (Yarraville SDS) had been the most crucial factors in his success.

But he is still working towards his greatest goal: “I want to dance on TV and make music.”