James Martin won an Oscar, and he’s the first actor with Down Syndrome to do so.


When James Martin was born, doctors said he might never talk. But, he not only learned to speak but, 31 years later, on his birthday, he walked onto Hollywood’s biggest stage and won an Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film, “An Irish Goodbye.” James made history as the first actor with Down syndrome to win an Academy Award. To make it even sweeter, the whole audience sang “Happy Birthday” to him.

James Martin never allowed his condition to limit him.


James Martin’s dad, Ivan Martin, is really proud of his son. He shared that James does everything with a lot of enthusiasm, and he’s very happy that all his hard work has been rewarded.

“He’s spent his life pushing boundaries. People often say, ‘You can’t do this, and you can’t do that’… but he’s proven them wrong, and he continues to do so,” he remarked.


Martin is the first individual with Down syndrome to win both a BAFTA and an Oscar, and he takes great pride in his achievements. He stated, “Having Down syndrome doesn’t matter as long as you do what you love. I do my best to bring humor to what I do.”

His girlfriend is also very supportive and views the win as a magical moment. She expressed, “It demonstrates that we should change our perspective on how people with disabilities can achieve just as much as anyone else.”

Martin has worked at Starbucks for the last 10 years.

© An Irish Goodbye / First Flights and co-producers

Martin’s colleagues and manager at Starbucks are extremely proud of his acting achievements. They placed good-luck posters in the coffee chain’s city stores to show their support for him.

However, Martin’s dad mentioned that despite his newfound fame, he doesn’t expect his son to leave his job as a barista anytime soon.

Martin developed a passion for acting when he joined the Belfast-based Babosh theatre company, which focuses on children with learning disabilities.

© An Irish Goodbye / First Flights and co-producers

During his time there, Martin participated in a variety of shows and cherished every moment. This experience served as a stepping stone for him, leading to his starring role in “Ups and Downs” alongside actress Susan Lynch.

Martin later secured a role in the series “Marcella,” but his most prominent role to date was in “An Irish Goodbye,” for which he received both a BAFTA and an Oscar.

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