From the moment I arrive, it’s clear this isn’t going to be a “typical” photo shoot. In the middle of Times Square I find the model holding the client’s hand, which I assume isn’t your average client-to-the-talent relationship in the fashion industry.
When it’s time to pack up and move to the next location, the model voluntarily lugs a load of the photographic gear in a rolling suitcase behind her — she wants to help.
I wonder how many models carry their photographer’s equipment just to be helpful. Probably not many. But Madeline Stuart, or Maddy, as she’s affectionately called, isn’t your average model. She’s a world-famous professional model with Down syndrome — the first adult with Down syndrome to nab not one but seven modeling contracts, according to her mother Rosanne Stuart.
A year ago, Maddy, from Brisbane, Australia, was 40 pounds overweight. A commitment to dance and cheerleading helped her get healthy and discover her passion for stepping in front of the camera, which she does to help end discrimination against people with disabilities.
She exploded onto the scene several months ago when some of her photos went viral and has since amassed a huge fan base — she has more than 420,000 fans on her Facebook page and 50,000 Instagram followers.