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Posted on Fri. Mar. 07, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

'Glee' actress to speak at Dsani event

Lauren Potter plays Becky Jackson on the show.

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'Abilities Abound: A GLEEful Celebration!'

What: Dsani, the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana, presents an evening with "Glee" actress Lauren Potter.

When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday

Where Courtyard Marriott Downtown, 1150 S. Harrison St.

Cost: $35 includes meet and greet with Potter, reception and program; $20 includes reception and program; and $10 for students, which includes reception and program. To order tickets, go to http://abilitiesabound.org.

Etc. The Whitley County Dazzlers, winners of the 2013 Cheer Limited Special Needs National Championship, will perform. The evening also includes the Abilities Abound essay contest winners and the Business of the Year award, honoring an area company that hires people with disabilities, fosters a supportive culture and has accessible facilities.

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Actress Lauren Potter knows how to work the red carpet. Pictures online show the petite 23-year-old dressed to the nines, striking a pose, hand on hip, at several swanky Hollywood events.

Potter, who has Down syndrome, is as poised and pretty as any well-known Hollywood actress. And she has a message to share.

She is most well-known for her portrayal of Becky Jackson in the TV show "Glee." Potter will be in Fort Wayne on Saturday as the keynote speaker at "Abilities Abound: A GLEEful Celebration!."

Abilities Abound recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of those with disabilities. March is Disabilities Awareness Month. The event, presented by Dsani, the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana, also includes a performance by a Whitley County cheer squad and the introduction of winners of an essay contest.

Potter spoke to The News-Sentinel on Thursday from Chicago, where she was at an event at DePaul University. She said she advocates for people with disabilities so people will learn to treat them "just like everyone else — with respect."

She also wants to put an end to people picking on those with disabilities, something she has experienced herself. "When I was in school I was bullied and called names," she said. "If you see someone being bullied (say) enough is enough."

Potter's love of performing goes all the way back to when she was a toddler. Her mother says Potter could dance before she could walk. She began dance classes at age 3. "I always wanted to be an actress," she said.

At age 16 she made her movie debut in "Mr. Blue Sky." Two years later she was approached to audition for the role of Becky in "Glee." She beat out several other young women for the role.

"I think it's so amazing to be on TV," she said. "People know me everywhere I go."

In addition to acting and her advocacy work, Potter also was appointed to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

As for her future, she said, "I want to keep acting on TV and in movies, too."

Asked if there was anything she could change about herself, what it would be, Potter didn't mention anything about not having Down syndrome. In fact many people could probably relate to her wished-for change. "Well, I think I would change my temper," she said. "Sometimes when I'm tired or hungry I get really cranky."

clarson@news-sentinel.com


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