Keep the Change, co-starring my daughter Samantha, is opening in NYC at The Quad, playing from March 16th through March 22nd. The film is also premiering in 7 other cities:

-San Francisco, CA – Roxie Theater – March 23-29th   

-Chicago, IL – Music Box Theater – March 23-29th

-Baltimore, MD – Parkway Theater – March 23-29th

-Winston-Salem, NC – Aperture Cinema – April 13-19th

-Encino, CA – Laemmle Town Center 5 – April 20-26th

-Los Angeles, CA – Laemmle Royal Theatre – April 20th-26th

-Albuquerque, NM – The Guild Cinema – April 20-23rd

On top of that, Keep the Change will continue touring the country with numerous one-off screenings in places like: Florida, California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, and Massachusetts. A complete list of past and future screenings can be found here.

Many of my readers have been following the magical mystery tour awhile now, and know what an exciting time it’s been for our family. What readers might not know is how totally time consuming, absorbing, (and yes, mostly-wonderful!) but-sometimes exhausting it can be working as the momager for my actress daughter—especially right now. My own birthday flew by last week; in between celebrations, I helped Samantha prepare for the JCC gala where she’d have a chance to meet honoree Marlee Matlin. Matlin has long been Samantha’s role model for a working actress with a disability. Of course, I tried in advance to arrange an introduction for my daughter to meet her idol. When that didn’t happen, I took matters into my own hands. After all, what kind of a momager would I be if I didn’t politely-but-firmly maneuver myself and my daughter through a crowd of admiring fans onto the red carpet and into a photograph with the gracious Marlee Matlin? http://margueriteelisofon.com/2015/07/red-light-green-light-marlee-matlin.html

Stressful but thrilling…

Less than thrilling was trying to help Samantha adjust to her newly shifting schedule that included: a conference call interview with The Mighty, an interview with Issue magazine, and television interviews with NY1 and WPIX. As much as Samantha loves media attention, she HATES changing her schedule, getting up early, missing a rehearsal, or just worrying that there won’t be enough time between activities. She also worries about being lost or stuck between appointments. Just the thought of being late or missing a plan provokes her overwhelming anxiety. (Boo hoo, right?).  Still, only this momager can talk her diva down, using a technique that boils down to ABA. Luckily, Samantha always chooses the chance at earning a successful career over sleeping late or maintaining her routine. I can (almost) always set up the choice so that she understands what’s at stake, but boy, am I exhausted.

On the other hand, I never tire of listening to Samantha’s and Rachel’s podcasts and interviews, or reading the surprising number of positive reviews for Keep the Change. Although there’s plenty of repetition in these reviews, I always learn something new about the movie, Samantha or her character Sarah. For example, I would never have guessed that Samantha would be so comfortable performing a sex scene for the very first time in her life. However, I truly wish that more critics would appreciate and respect the authenticity and talent that my daughter and other actors with autism brought to the film. I’m tired of reading that the film was “surprisingly” good, despite the use of “unprofessional actors.”  These same critics would never call a new neurotypical actor making her film debut “unprofessional” or “untrained.”  How can any actor become “professional” until he or she appears for the very first time and offers a strong performance? For any movie to be successful, the collaboration of writer, director and actors MUST rise to the level of professional. Period.

However, I’m mostly grateful to reviewers and you’ll see the reason why.  Here’s a sampling of recent media links for Keep the Change, and I’m over-the-moon proud to add The New York Times to the list:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/15/movies/keep-the-change-review.html

https://rogersmovienation.com/2018/03/12/movie-review-keep-the-change-is-an-unorthodox-rom-com-thats-on-the-spectrum/

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/allautismtalk/2018/03/12/art-and-employment–the-making-of-a-romantic-comedy-with-actors-on-the-spectrum

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/allautismtalk/2018/03/12/art-and-employment–the-making-of-a-romantic-comedy-with-actors-on-the-spectrum

http://differentbrains.org/autism-movies-keep-change-spectrumly-speaking-ep-36/

https://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/keep-the-change

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/keep-change-1087460

https://www.jta.org/2018/03/13/arts-entertainment/refreshing-romantic-comedy-autistic-couple-meet-jewish-community-center

Although I must have seen Keep the Change over a dozen times, I’m always eager to watch it again. I love listening to the audience reactions: the laughter, the awe, the surprise at just how much they were moved by the film. Those are the moments I love most.  When it’s time for the Q and A, I’m always holding my breath. I’m always worried someone will ask Samantha a question that’s either too broad or abstract, and she won’t be able to keep herself together. So far, she’s been fabulous during her Q & A’s, professional and even funny. Hint to anyone reading this who asks a question: keep it simple or she’ll ask you to re-phrase, and no multipart questions, please. This momager and her actress daughter with autism have several more film festivals ahead: Cherry Hill New Jersey, Boston Reel Abilities, Harrisburg JFF and one in July in the White Mountains. I need to pace myself. . . .

The making and release of Keep the Change has been a magical mystery tour.  I don’t know how long the tour will last or where it will lead. Maybe a TV show?  (A momager’s allowed to hope, right?) Meantime, I’m trying to follow the advice I give my daughter: take deep breaths and enjoy the ride for as long as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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