DANVILLE, Ill. (WAND) - A local star has been walking around the city of Danville, and you may have walked past her without knowing.
Her name is Ghaliyah Cunningham, and she's 21 years old.
"They call me Gigi," she said.
Her mother, Erica Taylor, said her daughter has down syndrome and went through a lot of obstacles in life, but somehow she has managed to overcome all of them. One of the biggest struggles was bullying. However, it has taught her to love herself and embrace her differences.
"She started off wanting to be a model," said Taylor.
A couple of years later, Gigi was walking her first fashion show called 'Be Beautiful Be Yourself'. It is the Global Down Syndrome Foundation's largest fundraiser in the U.S.
Gigi said she owes a lot of her confidence to her mother.
"She's my best friend," said Gigi.
Gigi said modeling is only the start of the many things she wants to accomplish. One big accomplishment is getting an acting role in NBC's 'New Amsterdam' TV show. She will be playing a young woman named Chante. The episode will be airing Oct. 29.
When asked how she landed her role, she said it all started on social media. People were tagging her on Facebook for the show and before she knew it, she received an email from the casting director in Los Angeles.
Her mother said once she landed the role, everything else was a breeze. Everyone made her feel welcome and they were very patient with her. She said the director even let her change up a few things in the script so she could feel comfortable and to Gigi, that meant everything.
"I want other girls to follow their dreams," she said.
She hopes her story will inspire others to follow their dreams.
There will be a watch party for Gigi's acting debut tomorrow at the David S. Palmer Arena at 8 p.m.