Massachusetts Star Champions Actors with Down Syndrome in New Movie

My favorite part of watching the new movie “Champions” with my daughter, Lucy, who has Down syndrome, was her reaction to the first shot of people with disabilities playing basketball.

She looked at the screen and cheered. It was the first time she saw herself represented on the big screen.

It was the greatest moment.

Tuesday, Lucy was lucky enough to go to a Special Olympics sponsored red carpet event and screening of “Champions” at Showcase Cinemas in Foxboro with actors from the movie, including North Andover native James Keith.

Actors from Champions at Patriot Place in Foxboro

The 25 year old, who has Down syndrome, stars as Benny in “Champions”, directed by Rhode Island native Bobby Farrelly.

It stars Woody Harrelson and a team of actors with different abilities.

Keith was always an athlete. And then, Hollywood came calling.

“His hobbies are hanging out with friends, working out, but his favorite thing of all is being nice to everyone. Really,” his mother, Kathy told WCVB-TV. “It’s no wonder, he ended up in front of a camera, but he could never have imagined a major motion picture would be his first shot until “Champions” came calling.

Keith plays a member of a basketball team called the Friends led by Harrelson, a disgraced NBA coach, ordered to take part in community service.

The movie was shot for months in Canada. According to Channel 5, Keith loved the working with Harrelson.

“Probably one of the nicest guys I ever met, and he also can ball, so he was a good basketball player as well,” he said.

Keith serves as an ambassador for Unified Sports and the Special Olympics.

Meanwhile, people with disabilities are getting more representation in television and film.

In fact, James Martin, who has Down syndrome, won got a great birthday gift at the Academy Awards this year.

His film won an Academy Award and the A-lister audience at the awards show sang him “Happy Birthday.”

Martin stars in the film “An Irish Goodbye,” which took home the Oscar Sunday night for Best Live Action Short Film.

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