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He's an accomplished actor. He has autism. His castmates usually never find out.

For actor Mickey Rowe, off-stage is where the real performance happens.

He's an accomplished actor. He has autism. His castmates usually never find out.

"Until I learned otherwise, I thought everybody was like me."

Photo by Mickey Rowe. Used with permission.


Mickey Rowe is an accomplished actor. He's performed Shakespeare, musicals, and children's theater all across America. He ran a successful nonprofit theater company in Seattle.

And he is autistic.

"There is a tension between everything that I am and everything that might be conventional for an actor," Rowe writes on the theater blog HowlRound. "This is the same tension that makes incredible theatre."

From the very beginning, acting felt like the natural outgrowth of Rowe's everyday lived experience.

Photo by Mickey Rowe. Used with permission.

"Autistics use scripts every day," Rowe writes. "We use scripting for daily situations that we can predict the outcome of, and stick to those scripts."

"I would guess that there are 10,000 neurotypical roles for every one neurodiverse role, so if I only played disabled characters I just wouldn't be able to work professionally as an actor."

Navigating the difficult, fiercely competitive world of acting is trying even for seasoned, veteran performers. But it can be next to impossible for someone like Rowe when the ability to make small talk can be as important as talent, and coming across as "weird" or "different" can be the difference between landing or not landing a role.

"I ... have not been open about my disability at most of the places I have worked," Rowe admitted when I spoke with him via email. "I have just secretly made the accommodations that I needed."

Every time he gets a new job, Rowe has to decide whether to reveal his identity to his castmates and collaborators.

Photo by Mickey Rowe. Used with permission.

Most of the time, he chooses not to.

"I think on a personal level for me it is much better to keep these things secret, to stay in the closet about them. But to change the culture and create more accessibility and inclusivity, as well as remove stigmas, people with invisible disabilities have to come out in careful, tactful ways," Rowe wrote in his email.

There are precious few disabled characters on stage and on screen. Thankfully, there's change on the horizon.

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," which features an autistic protagonist, just cleaned up at the 2015 Tony Awards.


Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

Putting a "neurodiverse" character front and center in a major, critically acclaimed Broadway show is a huge step forward. But the character in "Curious Incident" was played by a non-autistic actor, as is the case in most plays and films where characters with disabilities and other disorders are played by non-disabled/"neurotypical" actors.

Fortunately for Rowe, his ability to hide his autism allows him to play more traditional neurotypical roles.


Photo by Mickey Rowe. Used with permission.

"I would guess that there are 10,000 neurotypical roles for every one neurodiverse role, so if I only played disabled characters I just wouldn't be able to work professionally as an actor. Which is fine. It's beautiful getting to play every different character."

Unfortunately, many actors with autism and physical or other disabilities — especially those who are unable to disguise them — are not so lucky.

For his part, Rowe is jazzed about the success of "Curious Incident," and he's hopeful.

Photo by Mickey Rowe. Used with permission.

"I think that the show has really done a lot to open people's minds to people who think differently," Rowe wrote to me. "I think 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' has done beyond a beautiful job with what they have. It's a bold and inspiring decision to produce a story narrated by an autistic character. I can't wait to see where the show and the narrative of Autism Spectrum Disorder goes in the future."

Hopefully the continued success of "Curious Incident" will create not only more room for diverse characters like Christopher on stage but more opportunities for actors like Mickey as well.

Not just to perform. But to perform openly. Without fear. As their true, whole selves.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.