BEDFORD -- Carter Murai landed his first acting gig at 17 months. Now the seventh-grader is looking forward to appearing on “Sesame Street.”
“Elmo was my favorite,” said Carter, who shows viewers how to find books and how to check out books at the library during his scene tentatively scheduled to air on Jan. 26 on HBO.
The Bedford youth, who attends Ross A. Lurgio Middle School, has Down syndrome.
“It is so encouraging for us to see people with Down syndrome being represented more and more on television, on film and in print advertising. It is really nice to see that inclusivity,” said Marc Michael Murai, Carter’s father.
Murai said he jumped at the opportunity to have his son audition for “Sesame Street,” which is known for featuring characters with physical differences or disabilities. Carter will appear with the Muppets Elmo and Grover in an episode titled, “Honk If You Love Librarians.”
“I grew up with ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mr. Rogers,’ so honestly, walking onto that set with my son — I don’t even have words to describe how magical that was,” said Murai.
Carter said he enjoyed filming the episode about a year ago at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, N.Y.
According to his father, people become more accepting of individuals with Down syndrome when they are featured in various marketing campaigns, commercials or television shows.
“This also gives him something to look forward to and something to be proud of,” Murai said of his son.
Carter recently performed in a production of “Alice in Wonderland” with the Manchester Community Players, and also appeared in a national television commercial for JC Penney. He made his national television debut in 2013 when he appeared in a commercial for Care.com, in which he became the youngest person with Down syndrome to have a spoken line in a national commercial, said his father.
“I like to watch TV,” said Carter, who is excited to finally watch the “Sesame Street” episode that he filmed one year ago.
Carter said his dream is to be an actor when he grows up. Carter also does impersonations of Michael Jackson, and auditioned last year for “America’s Got Talent” in New York City; he intends to audition this year as well.
“We never expected less from Carter because he has autism. We don’t set the bar low,” said Murai, who is working with the local school system to potentially partner with Best Buddies International, a nonprofit that helps create friendship opportunities for people with disabilities.
As Carter gets older, he is increasingly getting more isolated from his typical peers, according to Sarah Murai, Carter’s mother. And while Carter does not articulate any sadness over this change, she is sure that it affects him.
“We feel that doing things like the ‘Sesame Street’ shoot are great for Carter’s self-esteem,” she said.
Although the Murais do not actively seek out acting jobs for Carter, they say the acting opportunities are a boost to his self-confidence. All of the money earned by Carter goes directly into a special needs trust fund that has been set up for him to use when he gets older.