Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Puslinch Boy With Muscular Dystrophy Determined to Break Barriers on the Big and Small Screen

'A lot of people with disabilities are not on many shows and they should try more things and do more things:' 10-year-old Nylan Parthipan

Nylan Parthipan on set for TVOKids's Odd Squad in 2020. The now 10-year-old is passionate about more representation of children with disabilities in TV shows and movies. Supplied Photo

A 10 year old boy from Puslinch in Ontario, Canada, born with muscular dystrophy, is determined to see more children like him on the big screen and he’s advocating by example. 

Nylan Parthipan uses a walker and a wheelchair and needs help with daily activities that require strength, such as slipping into his clothes. But he doesn’t let the disability define him. Most of all, he wants to see more representation of children just like him. 

The child actor was recently featured in a Roger’s commercial called Generation Possible. His mother Thadshika Parthipan said in the coming year or two, Nylan’s work —which includes voice animation— will be released by Nickelodeon, Disney, and TVO Kids.

“It's important for me because I want to show other kids that you could do anything if you try and I want them to see my shows, and be like, ‘Oh I want to try that.’ And then if they try it, they can do it,” Nylan told Guelph News.

“A lot of people with disabilities are not on many shows and they should try more things and do more things,” said Nylan. 

Thadshika said Nylan’s acting journey began two years ago when his physiotherapist’s daughter (also an actor) came across an audition post searching for a child with a disability. 

“We gave it a go and Nylan did not get the role for that one but the casting director fell in love with him and then she referred us to an agent and she convinced us to keep trying. So the agent would keep sending him lots of different things to audition for,” said Thadshika.

“And one of them was Odd Squad, he recorded that last year in September and then it aired a few months ago. And that's on TVOkids and PBS kids.” The series also airs on Nickelodeon in the Benelux region of Europe.

She said the family feels very strongly about representation. 

“Not only does he have a disability but he's also a person of colour. So that was challenging, but we've met some really amazing people, which has encouraged us to keep trying. Nylan enjoys what he's doing,” said Thadshika. 

“He's such a cheerful and happy child. He doesn't let the disability bother him in any way.”

Nylan’s favourite part about acting is the versatility of the work and he hopes to have a career as an actor in the long run. 

“My favourite part about doing it is that you can be anything, do anything, express the lines, act things out, and all that stuff,” said Nylan. 

“I want to be an actor and also I want to be a scientist to find a cure for muscular dystrophy.”

He said the support of his teachers and friends from his school in Guelph, École Arbour Vista, has been very encouraging. 

“Nobody looks at Nylan weird just because he uses a wheelchair. So the school that he goes to, the teachers were great. The parents are amazing, the friends are really nice. We honestly live in a great community. Guelph has been really great to raise a child with a disability," said Thadshika.

Originally published: October 18, 2021.

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