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Teen actor's struggle to break-down stereotypes in acting industry despite successful year

Thomas Smith, 17, of Attleborough, who has just appeared in a music video and a TV advert, as he starts up a career in acting. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Thomas Smith, 17, of Attleborough, who has just appeared in a music video and a TV advert, as he starts up a career in acting. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

A teenage actor is still facing challenges in his career despite a successful year of modelling and acting.

Thomas Smith, who won in the arts award at the Norfolk Youth Awards 2019. Photo: Simon Finlay PhotographyThomas Smith, who won in the arts award at the Norfolk Youth Awards 2019. Photo: Simon Finlay Photography

Thomas Smith, 17, from Besthorpe Road, Attleborough, has been acting since he was a child, taking part in magic shows with his brother Harry Smith.

Last year he appeared in BBC Two's Upstart Crow along side some of the biggest names in British comedy including David Mitchell, Harry Enfield and Liza Tarbuck.

He has since gone on to model for a healthcare company and has appeared once again on national television in a TV Licensing advert.

The teen, with Down's Syndrome, has increased his portfolio further by appearing in an international music video.

Thomas Smith, 17, of Attleborough, who has just appeared in a music video and a TV advert, as he starts up a career in acting. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThomas Smith, 17, of Attleborough, who has just appeared in a music video and a TV advert, as he starts up a career in acting. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Carol Smith, Thomas' mother and carer, said: "I was really impressed as originally the agency hadn't been looking for someone with Down's Syndrome so he was up against hundreds of other boys.

"Our agency put him forward and he was chosen for the music video.

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"He really loves acting and it's what he wants to do but we are still facing hurdles in local groups."

Thomas Smith, 17, of Attleborough, who has just appeared in a music video and a TV advert, as he starts up a career in acting. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThomas Smith, 17, of Attleborough, who has just appeared in a music video and a TV advert, as he starts up a career in acting. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Despite the Norwich City College student's achievements he is still facing challenges with drama groups and breaking down stereotypes.

Mrs Smith added: "We are still having problems with the amateur groups as they are still giving us the cold shoulder.

"They don't give reasons, it's sad but that's life. When we went along to a college open day and when we walked into the drama department they ignored us but they were happy to talk to others and show them around.

"It's sad but I'm used to it. Things have come a long way but there is still a way to go.

"Professional companies are being more inclusive with more people with disabilities appearing in programs but for Thomas the issue is at a local level."

Despite the problems that Thomas has faced in the industry he is able to look past the prejudice to enjoy what he loves, acting.

He is now looking to complete his course at Norwich City College and continue acting.

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