Little Rio got his big break when he featured in an ad campaign for Primark. Now, he's making headlines as the star of Amazon's Smile campaign.
For several decades now, those with disabilities have been excluded from mainstream media. Whether it's in the movies or in ad campaigns, it's very rare to find a lead actor who isn't neurotypical (that is, someone who does not display or is not defined by autistic or other neurologically atypical patterns of thought or behavior) and able. Thankfully, things are changing. In one of Amazon's most recent ad campaigns, little Rio Williams, a toddler with Down Syndrome, is the star. And perhaps it's best that we warn you now - he might just steal your heart. Rio may only be 22 months old, but he's already on his way to making the world a much better place, The Daily Mail reports.
Rio is from Bristol in the United Kingdom. His modeling career took off after he was part of an ad campaign for fashion brand Primark earlier this year in March. The tiny toddler was born with Down Syndrome in addition to breathing problems and a perforated bowel. When he was first born, he had to be kept in the hospital for a whole month. Later on, he went on to have bowel surgery. Then, he defied all odds to build his own career in modeling. His adorable little smile has won over the hearts of many. Ever since he modeled children's clothing for Primark, highlighting their baby grows, hats, and soft toys, he's been unstoppable.
After his unbelievable success with Primark, the 22-month-old was part of another ad campaign in October with children's television channel CBeebies, which proved to be another hit. But his big break came when he was asked to be part of an advert for Amazon's Smile campaign. The campaign allows customers to donate 0.5 percent of their order's net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns, and shipping fees) to a chosen charity when shopping on the website. Rio and his parents, dad Anthony and mom Kimberly, have chosen to donate to Bristol Children’s Hospital charity The Grand Appeal. This is the hospital that took care of Rio when he was sick.
Little Rio's cutie-patootie face and smile grace the global campaign. Encouraged by his success, his mother has signed him up to a modeling agency called Zebedee Management. She also posts regular updates about him and his remarkable journey on Instagram. Both his parents couldn't be prouder of their adorable little boy. His father stated in an interview, "All of this is such a breath of fresh air because we honestly thought the worst when we were first told. And we are opening the door to many others like him to show yes you can make a difference!" His mother happily added, "We are all so proud of Rio, it’s wonderful to see children with disabilities being represented in mainstream advertising. Hopefully, Rio is helping to show other children that regardless of ability, all children are beautiful and can achieve amazing things." Truly, Rio is setting a new, much-needed standard for inclusivity and diversity in marketing.