Learning Disability Week 2013: "What I get and need from acting is professional respect"

Sarah Gordy  is a British actress, best known for her portrayal of Lady Pamela Holland in the 2010 BBC TV series Upstairs Downstairs

My name is Sarah and I am a professional actress. I also have Downs Syndrome but that is not all I am.

I have been asked the question ‘How important is work to you’. I have been thinking about the question for a week and this is the answer. Work for me is everything. I feel lonely when I do not have a character, another life in my head. Acting is my life even when I don’t have a job. On a bus I listen to conversation to prepare for plays written by Pinter. I listen more than talk. Everybody is different and I want to understand. I like to play different characters not a Syndrome. I am a real woman and like to play real people.

I have been professional for more than ten years now and have met some very creative people and many ask me back. It feels strange writing about myself, I feel happier in character. Lisa Evans wrote a Peak Practice episode which was my first professional job. She then went on to write ‘Once We Were Mothers’ and I played Flora in two productions one at the New Vic Theatre and one at The Orange Tree, Richmond. ‘Walking on Water’ by Sarah Woods also got two productions. The greatest compliment for an actor is ‘a safe pair of hands’ and getting good reviews.

I did not realise until asked the question how important my acting is to me. I could not bare to live only one life, without acting, story telling, story living I would be empty. Like having the line between me and my demon cut as in Philip Pullman’s ‘Golden Compass’.

I have Downs Syndrome and I love people and people love me. What I get and need from acting is professional respect, we all need respect.