Well, Samantha didn’t win the role of Laura on the ABC pilot, “Until the Wedding.” But I enjoyed a lovely birthday anyway—even though my cherished birthday wish did not come true.

We haven’t heard back yet about the Target print ad. There’s no way to know if no news means bad news or simply that no decision has been made yet.

However, there is good news.  In her first audition competing with neurotypical actors for a role in an off-Broadway production of Macbeth, Samantha was called back for the role of a witch! Remember the audition where she got lost, froze while waiting to be buzzed in and sent to the wrong floor?  Yes, that’s the one where she survived and (apparently) presented herself well enough to be invited back. I didn’t seriously expect Samantha to win ANY role, let alone Lady Macbeth. I thought it would be a useful learning experience. I am SO proud of my daughter for presenting herself professionally under such challenging conditions and neurotypical competition.

In other good new news, Samantha hopes to audition for ANOTHER pilot that’s very similar to her movie, Keep the Change.  The film was a big hit in Israel, and so, apparently is the Israeli television show On the Spectrum which is being adapted for American audiences and will shoot in late June.  Fingers and toes crossed.

EPIC Players recently announced ANOTHER audition for an autism documentary.  Samantha emailed her interest within moments of being notified.  Yet another opportunity has been offered!

I’m so hoping that one or more of these casting opportunities will provide Samantha with a chance to share her talents with the world again.  I’m not holding my breath, but I AM trying VERY hard to be optimistic.

After reading The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, I’m convinced that Samantha is an unusual version of an outlier, succeeding in spite of (and because of!) her autism. Over her lifetime, my daughter has put in endless hours toward achieving her full potential. In special education throughout her childhood, no one thought she would go to college, let alone graduate cum laude. Unable to get ANY job after graduating, who would have imagined that Samantha could co-star in a movie that would win the Tribeca Film festival and earn her a Best Actress nomination?

Keep the Change has been shown all over the world and received rave reviews.  How many 20-something actresses with autism do you know who can say their photo appeared in the New York Times?   Not only that, but Samantha didn’t just sit back after the movie came out. She spoke at the United Nations on empowering women with autism in film, rang the opening bell at the NYSE, in addition to appearing in an autism ad and a sensitivity video about employees with disabilities.

No matter how difficult or daunting the odds, for ANY actor (especially one with disabilities) Samantha spends hours each day working on her singing, acting and movement skills with coaches, in addition to attending skills related EPIC classes or rehearsals most evenings.  She also puts in extra hours preparing for each audition.

Outliers always have some talent.  According to Gladwell, what separates an outlier from others with equal or greater talent is 110% effort, which means thousands of hours of work and proximity to facilities or markets necessary to perform that particular work. Not surprisingly, there’s always a dash of luck or timing involved.  But one could argue that outliers make their luck by networking or being constantly on the prowl for opportunities to demonstrate their talent and skills.  Sounds like Samantha, right?  But even outliers like my daughter who are obsessively motivated still must contend with that uncontrollable variable—luck.

My daughter enjoyed incredible luck when she was cast as the female lead in Keep the Change. She was in the right time and place when director Rachel Israel decided to cast a young woman with autism, instead of any of the hundred neurotypical actresses who’d already auditioned.If you believe in the outlier theory (which I must in order to remain optimistic), then Samantha will have more chances to perform in leading roles on stage and screen.  I must stop worrying that Keep the Change was an Andy Warhol moment, or that lightning doesn’t strike twice. As tempting as it is to believe in these clichés and “truisms,” I’m determined to prevent negative perspectives from discouraging us.  Each failed audition is an opportunity to learn and improve.  Practice makes perfect (or closer to it), I tell my daughter.

My mantra as the momager of an actress with autism?  The power of positive thinking. When I feel disappointed or defeated, I give myself a pep talk.  Then I go out and look for new stages where my daughter can perform as autism ambassador and leading lady. I must be relentless and never give up in order to set an example for Samantha. In other words, I must be an outlier too.




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