Neurodivergent actor Geffen Kaminer is to portray a neurodivergent character the upcoming Israeli TV series “East Side” — while past shows in Israel have featured characters with autism, these have always been portrayed by neurotypical actors until now.
historic role for autistic actor to play autistic character on new Israeli TV series
Eighteen-year-old Israeli actor Geffen Kaminer is making history for Israeli television: being the first autistic performer to play a character with autism. The Times of Israel reported that the actor will appear in the upcoming series “East Side,” starring alongside Israeli actor and model Yehuda Levi as his beloved daughter Maya. Other Israeli shows have featured autistic characters, such as the acclaimed comedy series “On The Spectrum,” which centers around three roommates on the spectrum (hence the title) trying to navigate life and love. However, until Kaminer, these characters have always been portrayed by neurotypical actors. — Upworthy
“I felt that nothing on television represented me,”
For Kaminer, winning the role was a fairly standard actor story. She saw an online casting call, signed up, and went through several auditions before getting the offer. The role was simply a perfect fit.
Even though she was diagnosed with autism at age 6, Kaminar’s parents were advised not to tell her until the age of 9. She noted how this made childhood particularly difficult. “It’s really frustrating to be autistic, especially during adolescence,” she told The Times of Israel. “Basically, I don’t feel like everyone else. I don’t know what’s different for me because I don’t know what’s happening with them.”
Despite having a passion for acting, Kaminar felt that “nothing on television represented [her.]” So to play a character who was also on the spectrum seems to be a dream come true.
More authentic representation of neurodivergence in television is a growing trend worldwide. Amazon Prime’s “As We See It” follows a very similar storyline to “On The Spectrum”: three twenty somethings who are on the autism spectrum live together as roommates. Only this time, the three characters are actually portrayed by actors who are autistic.
Show creator Jason Katims told Forbes that the mindful casting choice was “important…because I wanted to get it as right as we could” adding that the attention to detail didn’t stop with the casting. “It was also really important, for the same reason, to have people on both sides of the camera who identify as on the spectrum."
Similarly, in 2020 Disney came out with an animated short film titled, “Loop,” which not only featured a non verbal character as the lead, but is also played by non-speaking actress named Madison Bandy.
Autistic actor Chloe Hayden landed role in “Heartbreak High” remake
In 2020, Australian autistic actor, Chloe Hayden landed lead role in the new Netflix remake of the Iconic 90’s series, Heartbreak High. Thrilled to announce her involvement in the show, Chloe was also happy that she is portraying an actually autistic character.
“I’m so excited… that I am a part of the Netflix original Heartbreak High Cast, playing Quinni- a bubbly, logistical, outrageous, raw, autistic character. One of the first times in history we’ve seen an autistic person played by an autistic person, and the first autistic Australian actor to co-lead a series point blank period”
The actress has been a huge advocate for actually autistic actors being cast in autistic roles. Because of her advocacy, Chloe is well known on TikTok and Youtube for her videos representing autism acceptance and self love. On her Facebook page Chloe has spoken of being selectively mute while growing up and painfully fearful of the world.
A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO NEURODIVERSITY
The term “neurodiversity” was coined in the late 1990s by Australian sociologist Judy Singer, who is autistic herself. Singer, along with the American journalist Harvey Blume, recognised that what we call “diversity”, i.e. the variety we observe and value around us, can also be applied to people whose brains are different. These variations include autism, ADHD, the various forms of ‘dys’ (-lexia, -praxia, -calculia etc.), learning disability and more. Read on.