Olivia Wilde Has the Special Needs Community Divided With Her New Controversial Role

March 18th 2016

Laura Donovan

A new PSA for World Down Syndrome Day starring actress Olivia Wilde has sparked a lot of discussion on social media from the Down syndrome community, with some lauding it and others expressing concerns over its approach to representing life as a disabled individual.

The video, which is titled "How Do You See Me?" and promotes the hashtag #HowDoYouSeeMe at the end, was made by Italian Down syndrome organization CoorDown. It follows Wilde engaging in a range of different activities as a narrator named Anna Rose Rubright, who has Down syndrome, explains how she views herself. Viewers see the ups and downs of the woman's life. The clip shows happy moments of Wilde interacting with family members, relaxing with a life partner, and dancing freely during a night out, as well as a sad moment that features Wilde crying alone.

The video ends with the narrator saying "This is how I see myself" as Wilde looks at herself in the mirror. Then the video turns to narrator Anna Rose Rubright, who says to the camera, "How do you see me?"

What people are saying about #HowDoYouSeeMe

Some have said the emotional video is positive for the Down syndrome community while others have said it's an example of ableism, which is defined as discriminatory towards those with disabilities.

One user wrote that the question "How do I perceive you?" might have been a more empowering one to promote than "How do you see me?"

Kim Sauder, a disability rights activist with cerebral palsy and autism, wrote in a blog post that she felt the video suggests "that people with DS should want to be Olivia Wilde rather than themselves."

"From a larger standpoint it says that disabled people generally should see themselves as not being disabled," Sauder wrote. "It is unfortunate that the producers of this video felt that it would be more effective to have a nondisabled celebrity play out the life and dreams of someone with DS. Besides completely missing the mark on their stated intentions, the people who produced this video lost the opportunity to model how acceptance and inclusion can look."

Watch the full clip below: