Pop Culture

In historic role, an autistic actress will play an autistic character on new TV series

"I felt that nothing on television represented me," says Geffen Kaminer, star of the upcoming series.

israeli actress with autism plays autistic character

Reason #302 why representation is important

Actress 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 eighteen year old 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.

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.

These efforts do much more than add a layer of accuracy. When most of our understanding of autism comes from fictional stereotypes, we run the risk of forgetting the nuance and complexities that come with individuals. Authentic representation can be a power educator to help us understand the real life experiences of those on the spectrum, on an empathetic level. Which can, in turn, help aid against discrimination, abelsim, and oversimplification of the disorder. As Altogether Autism contributor Rachel Wiltshire writes, “a better understanding of autism means it is safer for autistic people to come out. And when autistic people can live authentically autistic lives, they can flourish.”

Whether casting neurodivergent actors like Kaminar to play autistic roles, or placing more storytelling authority in the hands of neurodivergent individuals, the result is more likely than not to result in better representation. And that makes for not only more engaging entertainment, but entertainment that inspires us to value different points of view.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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