After watching eight seasons of Game of Thrones, I expected to be disappointed by the last episode on May 19th. I couldn’t imagine a satisfying finale to the long, bloody and convoluted story of powerful families fighting to control the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and sit on the Iron Throne. Instead I found the last show surprisingly satisfying.
Why? After all the carnage, cruelty, sex and the extravaganza of special effects, I believe that Westeros (unexpectedly) ended up in the right hands. Civilized discussion among the surviving family members led to a mutually agreed upon ruler, rather than the might-makes-right-approach which had dominated most episodes over the past eight years. For me, as an autism mom, it was particularly gratifying to witness the selection of a leader who sat in a wheelchair. He was chosen for his vision and quiet-but-steely endurance, instead of being dismissed as a cripple or person with a disability.
Perhaps today’s viewers would say such an ending was contrived or unbelievable—especially given the level hatred and discrimination throughout the world in 2019. I would argue that all of the warring factions in Game of Thrones were forced to unite against a universal threat of annihilation. As a result, those who survived grew and matured. All had lost loved ones and felt deep regret for many of their actions. The surviving family members had learned that greed, bloodshed and an obsession with power benefits no one; peace, unity and wisdom are vital for all to prosper. One can only hope that U.S. voters in 2020 will learn from their mistakes and make a similarly wise choice.
If the popularity of Game of Thrones is an indication of where America might be heading in the future, there are reasons to be optimistic. Of course, I’m NOT recommending World War III and I don’t believe in dragons, but I’m encouraged by the rich variety of characters included in Game of Thrones, particularly the inclusion of strong, female characters. From my perspective, there were just as many leading female characters as males— likable, compelling and repugnant—who were fighting for the Iron Throne. The evil Queen Cersei, brave Arya, quietly stoic and wise Sansa, and Daenerys, the dragon queen, were just as compelling and complex (if not more so) than John Snow, Lord Barathian, Bran Stark and Tyrion Lannister.
And speaking of Tyrion Lannister, it was wonderful to see a dwarf in the role of a wise man and advisor. No one else could have played Tyrion more brilliantly than Peter Dinklage, who won THREE Emmys as an actor in a supporting role. Does this mean Hollywood will hire more talented actors with disabilities to play characters with disabilities? For the sake of my daughter Samantha Elisofon, I certainly hope so. If a talented actor, who happens to be a dwarf, can receive these honors, why not my daughter with autism? Samantha was already nominated for Best Actress in her debut performance in Keep the Change .
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLAwe5KRyjg which won the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. She has spoken at The United Nations two years in a row, rung the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, and appeared at countless film festivals here and abroad. Not bad for age 28.
Samantha has also been a finalist for guest spots on two television shows (although a near miss is as good as a mile and considerably more disappointing). Even with the top agent for actors with disabilities, opportunities for my daughter have been too few and far between.
So how can I help launch my daughter? While Samantha is working on her performance skills, participating in EPIC Players and DreamStreet, her momager is seeking paid speaking engagements and singing opportunities for her. In between auditions, rehearsals and performances for her theater groups, I’ve already booked Samantha to sing at the Korean Mission on International Disabilities day, December 3rd. Additionally, I’ve started brainstorming a one woman show featuring Samantha’s autism journey. Lastly, I’d like to mention that Samantha’s twin brother, Matt, a screenwriter, is currently writing a script starring his sister. My now- not-so-secret-fantasy is that my twins will bond by combining their talents. Hey, if I’m going to dream, I might as well dream big and dream double!
If any readers, talent agents or casting directors out there have any ideas, I’m all ears.