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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.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

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Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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