Tommy Jessop is a 35-year-old British actor with Down’s Syndrome who is starring in Ben Reid’s award-winning crime drama Innocence. This topical film challenges stereotypes in a dramatic and ground-breaking way, shining a light on the need for a more nuanced representation of disability on screen.
Who is Tommy Jessop?
Tommy Jessop is a multi-award-winning actor who has starred in TV, radio, film, documentaries and has played major roles on stage. He was the first professional actor with Down’s syndrome to play Hamlet and the first to play a leading role in a primetime BBC TV drama, the BAFTA-nominated Coming Down the Mountain.
Tommy has also appeared in BBC One’s Line of Duty, cameos in Casualty and Holby City, and is playing the lead as a boxer in Bugsy’s short film Fighter. In addition, Tommy has been selected by BAFTA for its 2019/20 Elevate programme, which supports people from underrepresented groups.
In Ben Reid’s Innocence, Tommy plays the lead role of Dylan who is questioned by police after being spotted at the scene of a crime, in which a worker dies in a care home. This leads to the police uncovering a crime more shocking than anyone imagined.
Innocence is a fast-paced crime drama created by BAFTA-nominated writer-director Ben Reid, and inspired by his brother Tom, who has Down syndrome.
As well as Tommy Jessop, the cast includes Alice Lowe (from BAFTA award-winning Inside No. 9 and the EMMY award-winning Black Mirror), Laurence Spellman (Ready Player One), Richard Glover (Rogue One), Bethany Asher (Wild Bill), and Faraz Ayub (Bodyguard).
This live-action short film is nominated for the Silver Dragon for Best International Short Film at the Oscar-qualifying 60th Kraków Film Festival.
It has also been selected for more than twenty other film festivals, including Foyle Film Festival, Aesthetica Film Festival and was long-listed for a 2020 BAFTA.
Innocence has won numerous high profile film awards including the Best Short Film at the London Lift-Off Film Festival, Best Ensemble Cast at the Lift-Off Global Network Season Awards, Best Drama at Short to the Point and more.
Producer Ken Ross is an award-winning filmmaker, with films including My Feral Heart to his name. After having his son Max, who has Down’s syndrome, Ken has spent 15 years making positive changes for diversity and inclusion.
He is a trustee for Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association and is currently working with BAFTA, NHS, UCL, NTU and the British government to promote equal rights and opportunities.
Watch the Innocence Trailer
By Emma Purcell
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