Zachary Robin Gottsagen, “Zack,” was born in New York City and moved to Palm Beach County, Florida before his first birthday. He was the first child with Down syndrome to be fully included in the School District of Palm Beach County. Zack was also involved in one of the first American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) litigation represented by the ACLU against Little League, resulting in mandatory training of all coaches and assistant coaches in including children with disabilities nationwide. His passion for theatre led him to audition and be accepted into the Middle School of the Arts and Dreyfoos School of the Arts, where he graduated with honors.
Zack has danced and performed for Southern Dance Theatre for over 15 years, where he also volunteered as a teaching assistant. Zack is also involved in various performing arts ensembles through Arts for All in Palm Beach County. He has worked as a teaching assistant at Standing Ovation Performing Arts Center and completed an internship with the Kravis Center for Performing Arts. He was cast in the lead role in “Artie” with the Royal Playhouse. He has acted in several movies with Zeno Mountain Farms. He was also featured in the highly acclaimed award-winning documentary, “Becoming Bulletproof.”
In 2019, Zack debuted in his first starring role in the feature indie film, “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” alongside Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, and Bruce Dern. Zack has been widely praised by film critics for his authenticity, comedic timing, improvisational skills, and wholesome charm. The film won the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival. Zack’s performance earned him the Palm Springs International Film Festival Rising Star Award and the Hollywood Critics Association Newcomer Award, amongst others. At the 2020 Academy Awards, he became the first person with Down syndrome to present at the Oscars. Zack has been interviewed in multiple print media, radio and television including People Magazine, The Today Show, Ellen, and Good Morning America!
Zack is a strong advocate and meets with state and national legislators working on various legislation affecting people with disabilities and other pertinent human rights issues. Zack was awarded for his advocacy work by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, who honored Zack with their highest honor, the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award. Zack has many close friends, a supportive family, and an active social and community life. Most recently, Zack completed a short film called “At Last” with George Lopez and signed a contract for a new television series.