While there’s been widespread conversation about ethnic representation in entertainment, there’s been less discussion about the representation of people living with disabilities.
While Atypical and Sia’s film, Music, have came under fire for enlisting actors with no lived experience of autism, Amazon Prime Video’s new TV show, As We See It, follows three characters in their 20s on the autism spectrum, played by actors Sue Ann Pien, Rick Glassman and Albert Rutecki who are actually on the autism spectrum.
The show follows the joys and challenges of navigating relationships, careers, hobbies and everyday life in an honest, respectful way that embraces the community while also educating those outside of it.
US-based actor Sue Ann Pien plays Violet, a woman working at a fast food chain who is yearning for a romantic relationship and also navigating a complex relationship with her brother Van, played by Aussie Chris Pang.
Starring in As We See It was an opportunity for Sue to finally feel seen and heard on-screen.
“The first time I read the script, I actually cried. One, I had never seen a character like Violet and, two, I knew exactly who she was; it was like Jason wrote that part for me,” she told The Hollywood Reporter, referring to the show’s creator, Jason Katims.
She explained that playing Violet meant she “was finally being able to be seen and understood.”
“It took away a lot of this loneliness I had from my youth.”
Sharing similar sentiments in a recent Instagram post, the actor said: “I care about this role more than I’ve cared about anything else I’ve done, because it was important for the world to see an honest portrayal of autism from a perspective that matters and I am so proud of this show!!!!!”
The daughter of Taiwanese parents also highlighted in her The Hollywood Reporter interview the inclusive environments on-set, no doubt very unique to other TV and film sets in the industry.
“Personally, I’m very sensitive to sound and noises, and I have to mask it a lot on other sets,” she told the publication. “I didn’t have to hide myself on this set; there was so much more of me available. I wasn’t afraid of something bad happening. I was around other actors and people who have loved ones on the spectrum, so it felt like everyone was very intuitive about who I am and what I needed.”
The world certainly hasn’t seen a show like this as of yet and we can only hope As We See It makes the industry realise the value of inclusive casting, representation and diverse storylines.
If there’s one TV show you watch this week, I highly recommend you make it this one.