I had the great pleasure of once again sitting down with Lauren Potter (Becky Jackson on FOX's "Glee") and her mom, Robin Sinkhorn at their Riverside home to talk about how Lauren's life has changed over the last few years, since she began filming the show.
When I first talked to Lauren in June of 2009, she had taken the part of Becky Jackson - a "cheerios" cheerleader on the show - and was scheduled for two episodes. "Glee" was brand new, scheduled to premiere in the fall, and she had no idea just how big the show would be.
Lauren has Down syndrome is a member of the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles, which has an in-house talent agency called Heart & Halo. She auditioned through the agency and her life has been a whirlwind ever since.
In the second season of "Glee" Lauren has been in all but two episodes. And as her character has gotten more outgoing and "spunky," as she calls her, so has Lauren, putting her own personal spin on many scenes.
"I get into it," she said of playing the part of Becky Jackson. "And then I'm her."
"There have been a couple of scenes where she did it one way and they rewrote the scene to use that," Sinkhorn said.
Lauren liked the cast from the very beginning and has gotten even closer with many members. She's become good friends with Dianna Argon, who plays head cheerleader Quinn Fabray on the show.
"We're like sisters," Lauren said.
Matthew Morrison (Will Schuester) is "adorable," she said. And she's also enjoying working with newcomer Darren Criss (Blaine).
"They're all my friends!" she said.
Currently Lauren is filming the prom episode, which is going to be "a big shock!" she said.
"Glee" was a great jumping off point for some of Lauren's other interests and now she's spending a lot of time speaking out against bullying and the "r-word," and speaking up for individuals with disabilities.
She's the spokesperson for the "Disable Bullying" campaign launched by the Special Olympics, AbilityPath.org and Best Buddies, and has been interviewed on CNN, Fox, Entertainment Tonight, E News and others. Last month she spoke before congress.
Lauren had some personal experiences with bullying lately when a group began posting hateful messages on her Facebook page, using the "r-word" and other derogatory language. Her mom saw the posts before Lauren did and cleaned them up. But after seeing how her fans were defending her, she decided to share one with Lauren and craft a response thanking the fans for having her back.
The positive response was overwhelming and fans from around the world are still posting great messages like, "Peru has your back" or "Texas has your back."
Lauren has recently completed a new campaign with Jane Lynch (Cheerios Coach Sue Sylvester) for the Special Olympics that will launch soon, and will participate in Best Buddies bike rides with Timothy and Maria Shriver this summer.
On the local front, Lauren will be at the Carolyn E. Wylie Center's Stroll 'N' Roll fundraiser at Shamel Park at 3650 Arlington Ave. in Riverside on April 30. Activities begin at 9 a.m. and Lauren will be there at about 10. She'll be in her "Glee" cheerleading costume and will have goodies to give out. To register for the walk visit www.wyliecenter.org.
Lauren was in infant stimulation classes at the Wylie Center as a baby and her mom attributes the many positive things in Lauren's life to having a great start.
Lauren plans to continue acting and sharing her message about living with a disability.
"Different isn't bad, it's just different," she said. "And when you see bullying, don't just stand by."
See Lauren at the 2011 Golden Globes here.
Read the 2009 story about Lauren Potter here.