Ruben reporting – CBBC actor turns Channel 4 correspondent
Ruben is a BBC actor and Channel 4 News correspondent who has Down syndrome. He has reported on issues like the COP26 climate change summit and abortion laws. We spoke to him about the work that secured his position on the Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2021.
Please tell us about the ground breaking reports you did for Channel 4 News.
I did about 4 parts on Channel 4. My first was on the effects of Covid on people with additional needs and my second was about sports centre closures. I covered Heidi Crowter’s court case challenging abortion laws, and my last one was about COP26 climate change.
Wow, there are some very serious topics there! Tell us a bit more about your involvement in these stories.
It was another film company called Hey Sunny, that I’ve known since I was 12, who actually passed my information to Channel 4 to make the link.
How Covid Affects People with Additional Needs was the first one I did for Channel 4. I found more information about babies and children and adults with all kinds of additional needs.
How do you feel when you are reporting on these serious issues?
They’ve all been different.
For Heidi’s challenge to the court case, when we found out the results I was crying and sobbing because actually it’s not really fair people like me and those with other additional needs are invisible.
And also, it calls equality into question because the High Court and the Government decided people with additional needs and other people wouldn’t be equal together.
Thank you for your honesty and bravery standing up for issues for other people might not be in the position to do so.
We’ve covered a lot of the reporting work you’ve done. So you started working with CBBC before those Channel 4 opportunities came?
So basically I’d done a couple of documentaries and Newsround for CBBC. And then I got the acting job for the Dumping Ground which actually used to be called Tracey Beaker.
How has it been working with CBBC?
It’s fantastic because I met a lot of new friends there. When I first came in for The Dumping Ground they were a bit anxious because I’ve got Down syndrome, but actually the cast accepted me as their friend.
Sadly I had to stop acting over the pandemic because the government said adults with Downs syndrome had to shield.
I missed a whole season of The Dumping Ground but I did some Zoom stuff for CBBC instead.
How did you get into acting?
Basically I volunteered with an organisation called Shabang and Shabang is a charity for people with all kinds of additional needs and people in a wheelchair.
So on the Monday we would do drama work so- basically I grew up to be dramatic!
Are you a diva?
It sounds like you’ve had a passion for acting since you were young. How have you changed since you’ve got older and tried all these amazing new things?
It’s basically changed my life. Now I can do subtle acting and being dramatic too. I’ve had other auditions and got parts on other shows where I’ve had to be subtle.
I was in the BBC 1 Drama; The Syndicate during the break in lockdowns.
If you could act in anything, what would you like to be acting in?
My biggest dream and wish is to be a companion for Dr Who!
We closed the interview talking about a new and exciting documentary Ruben is working on now!
We can’t share any more information yet but we will tell you as soon as we can.