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THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON

ZACK GOTTSAGEN (Zak) made his film debut as the star of a natural childbirth instructional film on April 22, 1985, and has been an enthusiastic performer since his first role as a frog at age three. He attended Bak Middle School of the Arts, and graduated from Dreyfoos School of the Arts as a theater major in 2004.

Gottsagen was the first child with Down syndrome to be fully included in the Palm Beach County school district. After the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) he filed one of the first ADA suits, which successfully challenged Little League to include children with disabilities, resulting in all coaches being required to receive training in inclusion.

An actor and a dancer, Gottsagen performed with Southern Dance Theatre for 13 years and assisted teaching there. He also helped teach theater to children at Standing Ovation Performing Arts and worked in an inclusive child-care center.

Gottsagen performed a monologue from "Hamlet" while standing on top of a tall ladder at the Black Box Theater at Dreyfoos in 2003. He auditioned for and was chosen to star in the live theater production of "Artie" at the Royal Palm Playhouse in 2005. He has been involved with Zeno Mountain Farm nonprofit film productions from 2008 until the present, performing in multiple independent movies with Zeno, including Burning Like a Fire and Life of a Dollar Bill.

During the shooting of the Zeno Mountain Farm short film Bulletproof, a documentary was made entitled "Becoming Bulletproof" (2014), which went behind the scenes to follow Gottsagen and other actors with different disabilities through their daily lives. "Becoming Bulletproof" was featured on Showtime for several months, received numerous film festival awards, and has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In July 2015, the Smithsonian Museum invited Gottsagen to be the keynote speaker for the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and showed the movie "Becoming Bulletproof."

Gottsagen is a leader in SAIL (Self-Advocates & Independent Living) through the Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization and is actively involved with Very Special Arts. He has advocated for the rights of people with disabilities in local, state and national arenas. He won the Global Down Syndrome Foundation's Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award in 2018 for his work in the Down syndrome community and was awarded at their Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show.

Gottsagen lives independently in an apartment in Boynton Beach, Florida, and has worked at the Alco Theatres for several years. He loves swimming, working out, basketball, kayaking, windsurfing, bowling and watching wrestling.

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