Like many 16-year-olds, Aaron Waddingham likes to play video games. But unlike most teens, Aaron got paid for it.
He was cast in the new Nintendo Switch commercial, which was released earlier this week.
“I played it 20 times,” Aaron told Global News via Skype, from Australia, where he’s vacationing with his family.
“We actually got the news that the commercial was released while we were travelling on a tram here in Melbourne, so it was very exciting for us,” said Aaron’s dad, Mike.
Aaron, who now lives in Vancouver with his family, has been taking acting classes and auditioning for parts this year. The Nintendo commercial was his first gig.
“His first paid job ever was playing video games,” Mike said with a chuckle.
But there’s another reason Aaron’s appearance in the commercial is significant.
“Nintendo very specifically wanted somebody with a visible disability,” said his mother, Sue Robins.
Aaron has Down syndrome.
“It’s very exciting to us that there will be more representation in the media of all sorts of different kinds of people,” Sue added. “I think it’s very smart of them to look for that.
“It feels like there’s going to be more roles for people with disabilities coming up… Things are changing, which is awesome.”
Global News featured Aaron and his mom Sue in a story from 2006.
The Early Years, a conference that helps parents and professionals from across Western Canada learn the best ways to support kids with disabilities, was being hosted that year in Edmonton.
Since then, Aaron has been working hard on his acting skills and even has an agent in Vancouver. His acting coach and drama classes helped prepare him for the Nintendo shoot and rehearsal, his mom said.
“It was pretty cool because it was a rehearsal to play a video game,” Sue said.
“They trained him how to play the Nintendo game, which I think you already knew how to play, because you’re a 16-year-old boy,” she added, turning to her son with a smile.
“The day of the shoot was about five hours long, and Aaron’s mom says it was super cool.
“He was in a small room with three other boys and it was packed full of people and the director was there and the camera was right in his face,” Sue said.
“He’s been taking acting classes and he also has an acting coach and he takes drama classes at school, so we had practiced what that would feel like on the really crowded set.
“He did really, really well. I was super impressed with him.”
Aaron, meanwhile, is just soaking it all in.
“Being in a commercial is really cool,” he said.
“I want to be an actor.”