Actor Zack Gottsagen makes history as first Oscar presenter with Down syndrome
LOS ANGELES - "The Peanut Butter Falcon" star Zack Gottsagen made history Sunday at the 92nd Academy Awards, becoming the first presenter with Down syndrome.
Gottsagen took the stage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles alongside his co-star Shia LaBeouf to announce the winner of the live-action short film category, “The Neighbor's Window.”
The 35-year-old actor received a standing ovation from those in attendance after reciting the familiar line: “And the Oscar goes to ...”
Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen speak onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on Feb. 9, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
"The Peanut Butter Falcon" marks Gottsagen’s acting debut, which follows a wrestling-obsessed fan named Zack with Down Syndrome who leaves his assisted living facility for an adventure, and ends up forging an unlikely friendship with a fisherman, played by LaBeouf, also on the run.
The film was inspired by Gottsagen and specifically written for him by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz after the pair met Gottsagen at an acting camp for people with disabilities.
Sunday was Gottsagen's first time attending the Oscars ceremony.
The Ruderman Family Foundation, a philanthropic foundation which focuses on disability inclusion and strengthening Israel-Jewish American relations, was among those congratulating Gottsagen on his appearance at the star-studded ceremony.
“Congrats Zack Gottsagen on being 1st actor w/ Down Syndrome to present an award at the #Oscars! We're proud to partner w/@TheAcademy on #disability #inclusion in entertainment,” the foundation wrote on Twitter.
Maria Shriver also called it an “amazing moment.”
Gottsagen was previously named one of The Associated Press’ Breakthrough Entertainers of 2019.
“It means some people believe in me ...(and) a lot of people love my talent,” Gottsagen told the Associated Press last year.
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This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.