Krystal Nausbaum loves parties, Broadway musicals and the colour pink. She’s self-assured, gregarious, and has a wacky sense of humour. The 19-year-old just began a high school co-op program working at a local daycare.
She recently played Phoebe in the TV movie of the bestseller The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, about a doctor who sends his newborn daughter with Down syndrome to an institution.
BLOOM interviewed Krystal about growing up with Down syndrome, becoming independent, and her dreams for the future.
Krystal participated in Bloorview’s Skills for Transition program. It pairs teens with a life-skills coach who helps them set and achieve independence goals. Want to learn to cook, budget for clothes, write a resumé or take the TTC to a movie? Skills for Transition at Bloorview can make it happen!
Call 416 425 6220, ext. 3296.
“When they said ‘roll it,’ I just did it!”
Photo by Don Nausbaum.
What was the greatest challenge growing up with Down syndrome?
It’s frustrating. I always compare myself to other people who don’t have Down syndrome. Last year I was a counsellor-in-training (CIT) at camp. This summer all of the other CITs from last year got to become counsellors, but I didn’t. I hate having Down syndrome because it’s frustrating.
What has helped you become more independent?
I had coaches (from Bloorview). They help with budgeting your own money and shopping, cooking and learning different subway routes. Before I didn’t know how to go on the subway but I got much better and now I can go to school and know some other routes.
Do you like high school?
It’s okay. I’d prefer boys and girls, but my school is just girls.
Have you ever been teased or bullied?
Some people get picked on and teased at my school but nobody teases me. I’m the smallest one in the school and they think I’m cute. When I was young, kids used to say ‘What’s wrong with you when you talk?’ Some people think I’m slow.
What would you do if you were teased?
I can stand up for my rights. It doesn’t matter if I have Down syndrome.
What do you enjoy doing?
I love musicals. I’ve seen a lot of Broadway plays: Beauty and the Beast, Annie, Snow White, Wicked, Hair, Chicago, Mamma Mia, Lion King and Rent — twice! I like acting and writing screenplays.
How did you feel when you found out you got the part of Phoebe after Lifetime Network did a North American search?
It was unexpected. I was walking home listening to my walkman. I came inside and everything was loud and my Mom said: “Hi Phoebe.” I’m like “Hi Mom.” I turned off my walkman and my Mom said “Hi Phoebe.” I said “I’m what?” Then I listened to the voice mail from the casting guy and I got the part and I was jumping around and yelling.
What was it like being on the set?
I loved the makeup trailer. All the people who were acting were in there and I got to meet them. I hated the wig I had to wear. It was a hair nightmare! And I hated that wrapping thing they put on so I would look flat when Phoebe was younger.
Were you nervous to work with actors like Dermot Mulroney, Gretchen Mol and Emily Watson?
No. When they said ‘roll it,’ I just did it!
What did you think about the storyline of the father who sends his baby daughter with Down syndrome away.
There were lines I didn’t like. Like when they called the baby a mongoloid and half a brain.
How did you memorize your lines?
I practise with people.
What are your dreams?
I want to be in more movies. I want to act. I love going out to movies and watching them on my portable DVD. I can relate to some of the characters. I can feel it.