How These Autistic Actors Helped ‘atypical’ Increase Its Authentic Representation
The lack of actually autistic actors and crew members on set of the Netflix series Atypical has been a point of contention since the series began in 2017. Behind the scenes, one acting studio and several of its talented students on the spectrum, helped move forward the shows inclusion of actually autistic cast members.
Following criticism from the autism community after season one of Atypical featured only one actually autistic actor, Anthony Jacques, creator Robia Rashid introduced a peer support group for Sam in season two, which included eight actors on the spectrum who study at the Miracle Project, a Los Angeles-based film and theater training program designed for neurodiverse creatives. Among the talented actors tapped to play peer group members included Domonique Brown , Spencer Harte , Nikki Gutman , Naomi Rubin and Layla Weiner . They were all cast on the show through the Miracle Project.
Founded by Elaine Hall, the Miracle Project has helped connect Atypical with more actors on the spectrum, from the peer group roles to background actors. Halls son is on the spectrum, and after traditional autism therapies didnt work for him, Hall tapped into her acting coach background to meet her son where he was. The Miracle Project now works with nearly 200 aspiring creatives, like Harte and Gutman, who prove to typical filmmakers and directors that authentic representation makes a story richer and more meaningful.
Heres what they told us:
The Journey To A Young Girls Dream Come True
From an early age, Tals dream was to be an actress. Tals journey to Hollywood required perseverance and overcoming her difficulties with social interactions. As a child, she had few friends and felt misunderstood due to her sensory issues and hyperfocus.
Tal was born in New Orleans and raised in Cape Coral, Southwest Florida. When Tal was a year old, she was diagnosed with a developmental disability and later diagnosed with autism in preschool. Tals parents had her attend private schools with a higher teacher-to-student ratio to help her academically. They also provided her with therapists for language and social development.
I was very happy as a child, but I had verbal processing issues and therefore did not interact and engage with other kids easily. I did not have a lot of friends. I was introverted and used my imagination creatively. I read a lot and was fascinated with electronicslearning to use computers, audio recorders, cameras, and video cameras at a very young age. My family is very supportive and I was fortunate to have a lot of resources, love, and education available to me, says Tal.
In elementary school, Tal spent most of her time working with teachers and therapists. Her parents and two other families started a school because they felt she wasnt learning in the public school environment. Tals parents supported and fostered her unique abilities.
My Autistic Opinion Of Netflix’s ‘atypical’
There has been a lot of buzz lately about Netflixs new show Atypical, which revolves around how one fictional family experiences autism. Being atypical myself, I was waiting patiently to watch and review Atypical. Before the show even aired, there was controversy in the autism community about how Keir Gilchrist, the actor who plays an autistic high school senior named Sam, is not autistic himself. Autistic actors such as Mickey Rowe, who plays an autistic character on Broadway, commented on the controversy when he reviewed the first episode. Further, no autistic people were consulted for the show. How could I not want to watch it?
Naturally, I binge-watched Atypical. I couldnt wait to see how mainstream television was going to talk about autism. Im sure Ill be thinking similarly when ABC premiers its new show, The Good Doctor. The last time I saw autism talked about on television was with NBCs Parenthood, where we saw Max Braverman grow up from his initial diagnosis of Asperger syndrome at age 7 up until his high school years. Since Parenthood ended after a critically appraised run, it was about time for a refreshing take from an autistic perspective, and there is where Atypical swoops in.
Here are the the things I absolutely loved about Atypical:
Here are the things I absolutely disliked about Atypical:
This review originally appeared on HuffPost.
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The Good Doctor Actor Is He Really Autistic
The Good Doctor Actor Is He Really Autistic. Is actor freddie highmore autistic in real life? I would say that he does a very good dramatic representation.
In the new york post, he said he knows someone with autism but he also did research and watched. It follows the life of shaun murphy , a young surgeon who lives with autism and savant. 17 2020, updated 4:50 p.m. That said, freddie did a lot of research and worked with an autistic consultant to help with his tv series role. He is special and brilliantbut his challenges are extraordinary.
Netflix’s ‘atypical’ Renewed For Fourth And Final Season
On Monday, Netflix announced the fourth and final season of Atypical will air in 2021.
Atypical follows 19-year-old Sam Gardner , an autistic teenager, as he navigates school, relationships and college. The series, billed as a comedy, was created by Robia Rashid and first debuted in 2017.
Im thrilled well be doing a season four of Atypical. And while Im so sad to be nearing the end of this series, I am extremely grateful to have been able to tell this story, Rashid said in a statement. She added:
Our fans have been such beautiful, vibrant supporters of this show. Thank you for being so open to Sams voice and stories, and those of the entire Gardner family. Its my hope that the legacy of Atypical is that more unheard voices continue to be heard and that even after this series ends, we keep telling funny, emotional stories from underrepresented points of view.
The series has received mixed reviews from the autism community, especially because Sams character is portrayed by a typical actor who is not autistic. In response, Rashid worked to increase the number of actually autistic actors involved in the show after the first season. This included casting a peer group for Sam in season two that was comprised of actors on the spectrum.
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Autism Has Been A Blessing
For Tal, her autism has provided her with gifts for acting and film productions. I believe my autism gives me some advantages in acting. The biggest one is that I tend to be hyper-focused and very persistent. Once I am given a role to work on, I continue to work on it until I feel I understand the character, she explains. Also, I am not emotionally attached to opportunities. I have auditioned for many exciting roles and have not booked them. They were fun and challenging auditions to prepare for, and I enjoyed doing them, but once I audition I tend to move on to the next audition and do not dwell on the fact that I didnt book the role. If I did, I think I might get discouraged, because there is a lot of rejection in this business. Instead, I just enjoy the process and keep learning and moving forward.
An Advocate For Her Community
Acting has also enabled Tal to be an advocate in the autism community. Atypical has made me more visible. For the first time, people other than my family are interested in what I have to say. I am grateful to be able to advocate for inclusion and representation just by doing my job and when I am asked, I am able to tell people how important I think autism awareness is. I can speak for myself and for others who dont yet have a voice. Im very grateful for Atypical giving me the opportunity to represent others in the autism community as Sid, Tal adds.
Working on the cast of Atypical has been an amazing experience for Tal: Keir Gilchrist is the best. He is very kind and is a serious, hard-working actor. Its so great having the chance to work with him, and I really appreciate how supportive and encouraging he has been to me. I also appreciate his amazing performance as Sam. He puts so much work into authentically portraying Sam. Actually, everyone on the show is so talented and so great to work with. They welcomed me and treated me like family.
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Growing Up With Autism She Never Saw Herself On Tv Now On Atypical She Strives To Show Others With Disabilities Characters They Can Relate To
Tal Anderson, a woman with autism, plays the character Sid on Netflixs Atypical.
In 2019, Tal Anderson made her debut as Sid on Netflixs hit show Atypical, which follows a teenagers life on the autism spectrum. It was a dream come true for the 22-year-old, whose aspirations to act stretched back to her teen years. It was also an answer to a question shed been asking herself for a while, a question that had plagued so many who came before her: would having a disability prevent her from breaking into Hollywood?
Anderson was born and raised in Cape Coral, Florida, and she says that ever since she can remember, she felt different than her peers. As a child, she struggled in school and social situations.
I didnt have any friends growing up, and people didnt understand me, Anderson said. So I learned to entertain myself.
Anderson found solace in television and movies, and immersed herself in the world of pop culture. She adored Disney, taking to The Lion King, Aladdin, and Mulan, and would write scripts based on her favorite characters. Then, she and her two younger brothers would reenact scenes from her scripts and other Disney movies.
I have always been a storyteller, but I couldnt express myself very well. So early on, I found tools to help me, she said.
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Coby Bird Actor With Autism Paving The Way For Actors With Disabilities
For the past four years, Bird has trained with Los Angeles theater company The Miracle Project, an award-winning theater program for children and teens on the autism spectrum.
Kudos to the show for hiring a person with autism to portray a person with autism, said Elaine Hall, executive director of The Miracle Project.
Just five percent of characters with disabilities in primetime television are portrayed by actors with disabilities the rest are played by an actor pretending to have a disability.
There is an enormous untapped potential of individuals with disabilities who are talented actors to play their own roles as people with disabilities, Hall said. We hope that showrunners will continue to collaborate and develop this talent pool through these opportunities.
Last year, Bird also guest starred on an episode of Speechless as a character with autism.
Bird is represented by Gail Ford Williamson of the Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin Diversity Department. Williamson represents more than 300 performers with disabilities.
Coby is a wonderful young actor on the spectrum who has won the hearts of casting directors and producers, Williamson said. He often auditions for roles that casting is looking for adults to play, but once they see Cobys skills, they have no problem hiring a minor and accepting the extra expense and limited work day.
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Atypical Quotes By Paige
42. You know whats not in ? My virginity! Yeah! Which you were gonna get, by the way. But now youre not. Ill probably end up doing it with the first guy in college with a British accent. So thanks for that! Paige
43. Maine is so beautiful. Its just like Stephen King described it, minus the scary sewer clowns. Paige
44. Sam, I gotta go. Its family rap night and the hip hop Hardaways are performing Hamilton. Im playing all three sisters so its a lot. Paige
45. Oh my gosh, I just got out of a yearbook meeting. No one could decide on a font. And Im sorry, but Helvetica? Gross. We are way better than that. Paige
46. Rule number one: We dont hold hands. We dont hold books. We dont hold anything. Well, except for each other when I say that we can. Okay, we dont discuss feelings, crushes, or finances. Oh! And our weekends are our own. If we happen to be eating lunch together or studying together, sit across the table from each other, not side by side like the French. But we do kiss like the French. Paige
47. You will not believe what happened. I was practicing my valedictorian speech in my nightly bubble bath and lets just say my note cards were involved in a vision candle accident. Really lucky I was in water. But anyway, now I have to rewrite them all from scratch. And buy a laminator. Paige
Do Sam And Paige Get Back Together
Paige is still mad at Sam. However, towards the end of the second season she discovers some mean things said in Sams yearbook about him and angrily yells at all the students for it. Sam offers to make the speech and later tells Paige that he did it because he still loves her. They get back together for the summer.
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Advice For Young People On The Spectrum
Some advice Tal shares with young adults who desire a career in acting: A career in acting is not something that happens quickly. If you desire to be an actor, you need to start first by training and learning because by working on technique you will be able to decide if you really want to do it. Also, find something you enjoy doing for work while you are developing your acting career. In film school, I learned and fell in love with film and video editing, and I do freelance editing on independent films and web series. I love editing as well as acting, and this keeps me in the industry and busy so that I dont get discouraged when times or auditions are slow.
As Tal transitions into adulthood and pursues her acting career, her goals include: playing a role in a major motion picture, a Marvel or horror film, and being a series regular on a television show. She also desires to use her platform to help others with autism achieve their dreams.
Transitioning into adulthood has been a challenge for Tal, but hard work and her parents love and support have opened doors for success.
But Just How Relatable Is It
There’s a commonly used phrase when talking about autism spectrum disorder : If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.
That’s because no two people are alike, so it’s little wonder that while some aspects of Sam played by non-autistic actor Keir Gilchrist strike a chord with some, others just can’t relate.
Melbourne teenager Karly Brownehas high-functioning autism and attention deficit disorder . Like Sam, she’s 18 years old and has recently finished high school.
What does she think of the show?
“Even through its glaring mishaps, it’s nice to have someone who has ASD that’s not the brunt of every joke.”
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But Atypical Doesn’t Portray Autism For Women And Girls
Crucially, Karly said her interactions were different from Sam’s because she is able to “mask” certain behaviours.
Masking describes certain behaviours people with autism adopt to try and fit in with those around them.
Emma Gallagher, a researcher from Autism Spectrum Australia who also has autism, said women and girls have a higher tendency to do this compared with men and boys.
“We’re usually much better at it because of the way that we’re socialised as children,” she explained.
Atypical Quotes By Sam
1. Whoever said practice makes perfect was an idiot. Humans cant be perfect because were not machines. The best thing you can say about practice is that it makesbetter. Sam
2. Those are three of my least favorite things. Oh, and eating raisins because I dont like to eat things with wrinkles. Sam
3. I dont like getting in water that people have touched. Sam
4. His eyebrows were huge, like he was an arthropod using them as a tactile sensory appendage. Sam
5. Autism isnt an accomplishment. Its something I was born with. You wouldnt write an essay about having ten fingers and ten toes, would you? No, because that would be really, really, really, really dumb. So Ill stick with the boobs. Sam
6. When Im stressed, I recite the four species of Antarctic penguin. Adelie, Chinstrap, Emperor and Gentoo. It helps. Mom taught me when I was little. You should try it next time you think youre dying. Except if you really are dying, it wont help at all. Sam
7. I hate touching the pens at the bank. Thats not really a question. Thats just something I thought you should know. Sam
8. Hi, its Sam, Sam Gardner? I had a plain turkey sandwich today that had very stale bread, and I had nothing to wash it down with. It was an aggravating lunch. Also, I got hit by a car. It was slow-moving, so Im fine. Okay. Sam
9. Zahid is the most stylish person I know. Sometimes he wears two watches. Sam
11. Im not ready to take the D-train to Bonetown. Sam
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