Meeting Cole Sibus for the first time, it will be immediately evident that he is an extrovert. His effervescent personality cascades throughout a conversation, humour seamlessly interwoven, eliciting frequent bouts of laughter from conversation partners. Witty, charming, fun-loving, daring, eager to try new things, compassionate and quite the conversationalist, Cole is a son, brother, athlete and actor. He also has Down syndrome, but this in no way defines him.
As an athlete, Cole enjoys a variety of sports including softball, swimming, tennis, and basketball. His athleticism extended to his participation in the National Special Olympics as a member of the swim team, an experience which brings huge smiles to his face when recalling the experience. His was an amazing feat because he had to learn three swimming strokes in a short space of time, including the breast stroke and, he won gold! “It was wonderful,” Cole said, “and I learned a lot of my strokes by watching YouTube videos.”
Many may be familiar with the 24-year-old in his role as the young Ansel Parios, on the ABC TV show, Stumptown. In that role, he played the part of a shrewd, caring teenager with Down syndrome who was eager to be independent. He worked at a restaurant/bar run by a friend of his sister. Although she was understandably over-protective, Ansel managed to assert his independence and earned his sister’s respect for his ability to make decisions for himself, one that included eventually moving out!
That role is indicative of Cole’s real-life circumstances – he recently moved out of his family home and is enjoying his independence, in his own space away from the family, but with caring roommates who look out for him. “It feels different, “Cole shared, “but it’s fun.” He’s often included in his roommates’ social activities such as rock climbing and surfing among others. He regularly visits his parents but now has “his own place.”
Although Stumptown was the most exciting of his acting career to date, having as a co-star, big-name actors Michael Ealy (Detective Hoffman), Colbie Smulders (Dex), Jake Johnson (Grey), Tantoo Cardinal (Sue Lynn), Adrian Martinez (Tookie) and Camryn Manheim (Lieutenant Cosgrove), Cole was already familiar with the world of acting prior to Stumptown, having starred in the 2017 reality TV show, Born this Way. This was a show about young adults with Down syndrome navigating their way through life. As he recounts how he got into acting, he laughs, “You’ll love this story,” he said. “My sister, Lauren, did home videos and my mom made her put me in her movies.” Then I realized that I liked acting so I auditioned for Born this Way in 2017 and got the part; then in 2018, I auditioned for Spare Room, an independent film, and got the part, and then Stumptown!”
Cole describes his character, Ansel, as being “kind, sweet and smart” and he hopes people who watched the show will have learned this one fact about people with Down syndrome: “that we have no limits! We can do the same things typical people can do.”
Cole’s dream is to act in a family film with The Rock, Dwayne Johnson as his dad.
With his parent’s support and encouragement, Cole now has a real-life job working at a local restaurant – something he absolutely loves! He sets the table, gives the menu to diners and pours their coffee. “I really love it. I love seeing people every morning,” he shared.
Cole encourages employers to be inclusive and to recognize that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities do have skills that can be used in the workplace.
Working out is one of his favourite pastimes and he has also recently started taking Jiu-Jitsu lessons. He has an active social life which includes hanging out with his sister, family, his roommates, and friends at church. Cole has a girlfriend, Teresa, who is a photographer and DJ, so times spent together are always fun-filled. They share many similar interests and, among other things, both enjoy boating, surfing, wake boarding, going to church and to the movies – their favourite movie is “I Still Believe”.
Although Cole enjoys a full life, challenges still occasionally dot his path but he is undaunted. He admits that one of the biggest hurdles he’s encountered so far was “having to learn how to memorize my lines and get into my character when acting.” But he mastered it, with “practice, practice, practice,” he said with pride.
As a confident young man, Cole gives sound advice: “Be yourself.
Don’t try to be someone you are not. I don’t want to be that other person – I want to be my own person,” he declares.
“But,” he says reflectively with a twinkle in his eye, “unless I get to be the next James Bond. Then I’ll be that person!”
Follow Cole on Instagram
Read more about him on his website:
Watch Cole is this VOYA commercial:
Read a Forbes article written about the commercial.