2015 Voices

Madeline Stuart, model with Down syndrome, reflects on her whirlwind year in fashion

It’s been a big year for Madeline Stuart, the 19-year-old model from Queensland, Australia, who’s been busy proving that one look doesn’t fit all in the fashion world.

She’s walked in multiple runway shows — including for New York Fashion Week — and done photo shoots for leading women’s magazines. Stuart is also scored some major brand partnerships, becoming the face of GlossiGirl Cosmetics and the handbag brand EverMaya.

And most recently, she’s teamed up with the InsideOutside Theatre Company in Brisbane, to help raise funds to provide dance classes to young people with disabilities.

The hard-working teen, who goes by Maddy and has Down syndrome, caught up with TODAY.com along with her mother, Rosanne Stuart, to reflect on 2015, and give us a hint of what’s in store for next year. She shares her story as part of "2015 Voices," a special series of essays and interviews with newsmakers behind some of TODAY's biggest moments of the year.

Cici Ziets
Australian teen Maddy Stuart is changing the face of modeling.

You’ve accomplished so much this year! How do you feel about that?

It’s been a wonderful year. We have made so many new friends and learned many more things about the fashion industry, but most of all, we have received so much love and support from our social media family.

RELATED: Model won't let Down syndrome hold her back

(Editor's note: Stuart has nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram.)

What was the biggest challenge you faced this year?

I think the long hours were the biggest challenge — and the huge amount of people backstage working at fashion shows!

RELATED: 'She captures inner beauty': Maddy Stuart lands new ad campaign

How have you grown in the past year?

I am a lot stronger now. I’ve learned to be professional and to take my job as a model very seriously.

Do you think you’re helping to change public perception of what it means to be a model?

I hope so! People do contact us every day and say thank you for giving us strength and encouragement. Anything is possible. It’s so important because everyone should feel beautiful and worthwhile.

Where do you hope your modeling career takes you next year?

We’ve already been booked for fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Tokyo, and fundraisers in Uganda, Canada and Alaska. I think we’re going to have an amazing year to come. I’m also going to launch my new clothing line and prepare my first, very own fashion show for charity.

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