Inspirational Woman of the Month: Amanda Booth
We are so excited to kick off our new initiative, Inspirational Woman of the Month, with Amanda Booth on no better day than Giving Tuesday.
We'll be talking success, challenges, living in the now, effects of social media, and more in our interview with Amanda below. But first we'd love to share a little bit about this super woman.
Amanda is an accomplished actor, model, mother, and more. She began modeling fifteen years ago and has built quite an impressive portfolio. In addition to maintaining a fiercely successful career, she is also mother to Micah, her incredible 5-year-old son living with Down Syndrome. He has followed in his mother's footsteps with his own modeling career and they are both advocates for others living with Down Syndrome.
You can shop Amanda's swimsuit of choice, The Butterscotch Halter One Piece, here. And now we'd love for you to take a moment to read our exclusive interview below:
K&S: As a very successful actress & model, you must be used to being in the spotlight. Did that visibility play a part in finding your place as an advocate? Or was there something that motivated a conscious decision to be a voice for those with Down Syndrome?
Amanda: I think I owe it entirely to the platform provided by having a job in the spotlight. I think when you do what I do for a living, people are naturally a little curious about your life behind the scenes. When Micah had his diagnosis we knew that we had two choices: to keep our private life private, or to live exactly as we had been and share him with everyone. We obviously chose to just keep living as we already had – sharing all of our real life moments with the world!
K&S: What are your biggest challenges in taking on a public role as an advocate?
Amanda: I’m not sure it’s a challenge, but I suppose the responsibility that it comes with can feel heavy sometimes. Just being aware of what I say and how I say it. And knowing that the words I choose are heard and are meaningful. So it's a challenge to not screw it up.
K&S: What would you like people to know about Micah and other people like him?
Amanda: I think it’s important to remember that any person with a diagnosis is just as different from one another, as any person without a diagnosis. So, never assume you know anything about anyone. If you’re curious about someone, go and ask. Don’t be afraid to say the wrong thing, because getting to know someone is very important and we can’t lose out on those opportunities because of fear. So, what I can say about Micah is; I would love for everyone to know that he is very aware. He notices if someone is comfortable around him or if they’re not. He wants to play and be tossed around just like every other five year old. He loves physical play, and he isn’t being harmful, he just knows how to play that way.
K&S: You are a very busy woman! Have you seen your life as a mother & advocate work hand-in-hand with your life as a successful actor/model?
Amanda: I do think that the way that we're advocating is directly tied into my work, and they definitely coexist! I have been earning a living creating advertising for fifteen years, and I simply started to demand brands looking for “real mom and baby” to consider using us. Motherhood looks different for everyone and I think that it’s just the right time to remind everyone of that. Diversity and inclusion in the media happens to be a very big buzz at the moment, and I want to make sure that the differently-abled community wasn’t forgotten in that conversation. When everyone thinks the conversation starts by having more people of different ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and genders in leadership roles to make the decisions (albeit a good start) they’re forgetting that the differently-abled community often times isn’t heard in this way. They even sometimes, literally have no voice at all. So although it certainly helps having a more inclusive work place, it’s still our obligation to speak for those who (sometimes) cannot speak for themselves.
K&S: The industry you’re in is known for being fast-paced and very competitive. How do you separate the high-stress work life from home life? Do you and Micah have any routines or rituals to “live in the now”?
Amanda: I feel that this is something I have always been able to put into practice, well before becoming a mother. I have always made a conscious effort to work hard when I can, and then to focus on the real stuff that matters (family) when I am not. The greatest lesson Micah has taught me is definitely the "now". He has achieved milestones much slower than a typical kiddo. Which from day one, forced us to live in the now of parenting. We couldn’t skip ahead, or miss a beat. Everything has been led by Micah and we have to sit back and follow his lead. So certainly in that way much of our life slowed down too. Now I just work to allow myself to work when I work, and then parent when I am not. So long as the line is clear it’s easy to manage.
K&S: You’ve mentioned that social media was a very useful tool- a sort of safe haven- when you were first connecting with other families with children who have Down Syndrome. What do you think we can all be doing in our own social media practices to encourage that kind of community and support?
Amanda: I think one of the most important things lacking on social media is realness. I believe one of the main reasons I’ve connected with so many over social media is because we have sort of been forced into keeping it real. When you’re a parent sharing something that others would deem “challenging,” it’s already showing you’re open to talking about life & what it really looks like, and that sort of openness is what social media should be! It’s not called pretty media, it’s called social media, so if you’re wanting to be social and feel support with others, then I think the key is to be real.
K&S: How have you learned to embrace and celebrate uniqueness in your professional life, in an industry that’s so heavily based on looks? And do you have any advice for young men & women that may be struggling to find joy in their own differences in a world that is becoming increasingly more focused on appearances with social media?
Amanda: I believe most everything in life is about perspective. My job has been based on looks yes, but the only way to succeed in this business is specifically based on uniqueness. How else would someone stand out in a crowd, a full audition room, or on a magazine page? For all of the jobs that I didn’t book based on my appearance, all of those reasons are exactly why I booked the jobs that I have. For example: When I first started modeling I had a lot of agents say I should get a nose job, because my nose was crooked. See, scared people tend toward what’s “normal” because it’s familiar, and familiarity is safe. Or, I could listen to the countless clients and photographers who loved my nose, because it was different. Both were words spoken to me, and I chose to hear the perspective of how different was beautiful.
K&S: On the flip side, how have you learned to celebrate uniqueness in your personal life with raising Micah? Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share with our readers on how to become more accepting of other people’s differences?
Amanda: To be blind to difference is to be completely removed from humanity. I dare anyone to find someone who is exactly the same as them! Even identical twins have different finger prints. Those of sound mind have the most incredible gift, and that is to restructure a natural thought and realize that we can all change. Listen when someone says they like something about you. Do not listen when they say that they don’t. Look into the eyes of a person and realize that even though you may look the same and that that feels safe, there is an entire story that you’ve never read before lying underneath. If we all just started treating others as we would like to be treated then perhaps the world would be a better place… Also, never forget: when you buy things online the clothing is pinned and it doesn’t look that way on anyone, really. And most pictures on social media are Facetuned, and no one really looks like that either. So get the heck out of your head and just look at real people in front of you.
K&S: You’re obviously an extremely hard worker with a very full portfolio, not to mention you’re a rockstar-mom to Micah. What’s next for you/What are some of your goals?
Amanda: First of all, thank you that’s very kind. My goals are to keep trying to be more present in life and open to where it may lead us. I would love to do more speaking and connecting in that sort of way. I love my job, but what I love the most about it is what it’s brought me, which is an incredible platform to be heard. I think I’d like to do more of that.
K&S: Who has been an inspirational woman in your life and why?
Amanda: Both my mother, and my grandmother have always been my inspiration. My grandma because she worked 12 hours shifts in a candy factory until the day she passed away. She worked hard to take care of her family and I never heard her complain about it. To her it was a total luxury to be able to make sure her family was fed. And my mother, because she found her way out of abusive relationships, and carried her way through three jobs to just get by. We often went without heat or hot water, and she always made sure I felt that we were okay, and made growing up that way as fun as she could.
K&S: If you could step into my shoes, what would you ask yourself that I didn’t?
Amanda: This honestly feels like a well-rounded interview, so I can’t think of a thing! Other than maybe what’s my favorite holiday? It’s the fourth of July! I always loved it because it’s more of a friend holiday…backyard BBQ's and the sort. My family was never very close, so the expectations of everyone wanting to be together wasn’t the same for this holiday. But…I’m happy to report that this is the first year that Christmas just might be becoming my favorite! Because the cool thing about growing up, is that you have the power to make your life look how you’ve always wanted, in spite of how you grew up.
I think we can all agree that Amanda is truly an inspiration, regardless of who you are, what your goals are, or how you live. We want to publicly thank Amanda (although there can't possibly be enough thanks in the world) for loving Kingdom & State and taking the time to share her wisdom with us. Click here to follow Amanda on Instagram and Click here to follow Micah.