Award-Winning Actor, International Spokesperson and Board Member, Global Down Syndrome Foundation
By 2000, John C. McGinley had amassed decades of stellar work on stage and screen, including six collaborations with Oscar-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone. John has said that Platoon was one of his favorite roles and one of the hardest. But despite being considered one of his generations finest movie actors, he joked that he wasn’t pretty enough for television. “They like Ken dolls and I look more like Ken’s creepy uncle.”
John wasn’t missing the small screen – he had plenty of interesting work. But by 2000, he had taken on his most significant role and it had nothing to do with his acting chops. His son, Max, now 12, was born with Down syndrome. John found himself wanting to stay home and be with Max. Something not easily done if you are on set, far from home, for months at a time.
“I went after Scrubs,” says John about the long running Emmy-nominated television show. “It was a great character – a curmudgeonly guy named Dr. Cox, who had a soft side. And I wanted to stay here and be with Max.” Divorced, John was a single dad who took life with Max seriously, taking him to school, to the doctor, play dates, and events. “I had a great life with this great kid,” says John who finally got the role after six auditions. “I got lucky and got a great gig near home.”
While John is an advocate for his child, he found himself taking on a more public role. He has supported hundreds of Buddy Walks, spoken at events and in the past raised money for the National Down Syndrome Society as a spokesperson.
More recently, John was recognized as “Parent of the Year” by ivillage.com, and he has joined the Special Olympics campaign: “Spread the Word to End the Word.” The campaign educates against the use of the “R” word. John’s written commentary on the “R” word was published by the Huffington Post and is one of the most compelling arguments written about the subject to date. In 2011 John received the Foundation’s Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award for his work related to people with Down syndrome and people with developmental disabilities in general.
John is proud to be a part of the Foundation’s mission and vision. As one of the Foundation’s International Spokespeople, John has created powerful public service announcements. He is determined to help the Global Down Syndrome Foundation create a more equitable and brighter future for people with Down syndrome.