Gavin McHugh—Acting is a Family Affair

Ed McHugh Gaven McHugh Lisa McHugh
Michael McHugh, Gavin McHugh and Lisa McHugh

Gavin McHugh, the youngest of five children, was adopted from Riga, Latvia, at the age of two-and-a-half. In 2015, his family moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles to pursue opportunities in the acting industry for his older siblings, while Gavin, who was just starting kindergarten, was fighting to overcome many of his physical issues caused by cerebral palsy. After tagging along with his siblings to a few audition, he asked for his own audition. Lucky for him, but completely unexpected by the rest of the family, opportunities flooded in and Gavin, now represented by Leslie Allan-Rice Management, works steadily as inclusivity has become more common.

Some of his work (which to the delight of his siblings also acquired work for the rest of the family) includes national commercials for Adventist Health, Lincoln Financial, Honda, Target, Walmart, Tommy Hilfiger, an interview for KTLA, photo shoots for the covers of FamilyFun Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, and PR and advertisements for Shane’s Inspiration, The Mighty Underdogs, A Walk on Water, and Inspired by Drive. In his free time, Gavin loves playing with his siblings (especially at Shane’s Inspiration’s playgrounds), swimming, surfing, playing at the beach, singing, and reading books, but his favorite thing in the world is “going to set” to act. He plays Christopher Diaz on the TV show 9-1-1 and loves his character so much that he asks to be called “Christopher” all the time, not just on set. His siblings are Flynn McHugh, Logan McHugh, Shea McHugh and Lia McHugh.

Michael, Lisa and Gavin McHugh had a fun sit-down chat with ABILITY’s Chet Cooper and Lia Martirosyan:

Lia Martirosyan: So tell me about some of Gavin’s recent work in the acting industry.

Lisa McHugh: Do you know about Tommy Hilfiger’s — Tommy Adaptive collection?

Lia Martirosyan: Yes.

Lisa: Gavin did an ad for them.

Lia Martirosyan: Oh, cool!

Lisa: And then surfed in it. It was a great spot. Next Friday we’re going to Nashville for him to present Tommy with an award by The ARC (For people with intellectual and developmental) disabilities). They asked Gavin to be a presenter and present Tommy with an award for creating the disability clothing line.

Gavin during production of a Tommy Hilfiger commercial

Lia Martirosyan: Very cool!

Lisa: It’s called the adaptive line.

Lia Martirosyan: I’m aware of it, but I didn’t know the exact name. I just knew they started it.

Lisa: ARC is presenting Tommy Hilfiger. I’m excited to see their national conference and hear their speakers. It’s at the Gaylord in Nashville.

Lia Martirosyan: Do you like learning the lines when you have a new role?

Gavin: Yeah.

Michael McHugh: And everybody helps him out. He has a really good memory. It’s a family affair.

Lisa: It’s funny how he memorizes. He memorizes multiplication. He has a good memory.

Gavin: Ask me.

Lia Martirosyan: Two times two.

Gavin: Four.

Lisa: Eight times three.

Gavin: 24?

Lisa: Eight thousand and eight times zero.

Gavin: Zero.

Cooper: I couldn’t get one of those right.

Lia Martirosyan: You have to teach Chet some multiplication.

Chet Cooper: Is Gavin home-schooled?

Lisa: No, he’s in school. So far.

Cooper: How does he get along with the other students?

Ed: He does very well in class. I was in his class the other day. The kids freakin’ love him.

Lisa: We went to the school to meet the teacher for something, and all the kids came out the door and they were like, “Oh, you’re Gavin’s parents?” They love him at school. The kids come and tell us stuff about him. They’re like, “Gavin did really good today. He got a star for his behavior.”

Lia Martirosyan: What’s your favorite subject?

Gavin: Reading.

Lia Martirosyan: Nice! What did you just read?

Gavin: The Giving Tree.

Lisa: Tell her what you were on Halloween!

Gavin: Wolverine.

Lia Martirosyan: Oh, my gosh, that is pretty cool!

Lisa: He’s got sideburns. Tell her what you said when everybody said they were going to put sideburns on you.

Gavin: Are they gonna burn? (laughter)

Lia Martirosyan: That’s a good question! What’s your favorite thing to do?

Gavin: Like, when I’m not working?

Lia Martirosyan: Right.

Gavin: I usually grab a book and sit on the couch.

Lia Martirosyan: Wow, that’s cool. Reading is cool. Are the kids at school nice to you?

Gavin: Yeah.

Lia Martirosyan: Is it public school or private?

Gavin: Public. You’ve got to watch 9-1-1.

Gavin McHugh 9-1-1 fire truc -backLia Martirosyan: What would you say to other kids who have cerebral palsy and are having a hard time?

Gavin: You can do this. You’ve got this. I believe in you. Someone else can do it, but I can do it, too.

Cooper: Gavin, would you recommend acting for other kids?

Gavin: You know what? That’s a good question. I would.

Gavin surfing for a Tommy Hilfiger commercial
Gavin surfing with Timmy Hazelip —founder of  The Mighty Under Dogs

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