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ASPartOfMe
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17 Jan 2022, 11:34 am

Why Nik Sanchez Is A Force To Be Reckoned With

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Nik Sanchez has made history as the first autistic actor to portray an autistic character in a Hallmark original film.

The 17-year-old will star in the upcoming Lifetime film Safe Room, a thriller centered around widow Lila Jackson and her 14-year-old autistic son Ian (played by Sanchez).

After Ian witnesses a murder, Lila becomes tangled up in a struggle to protect her son by hiding in her late husband’s panic room, where she and her son must outsmart their intruders and prevent them from attaining the record of the crime.

Sanchez made his debut in an episode of ABC’s The Rookie where he has had a recurring role as Silas March since 2020.

After appearing in the Hallmark Christmas film, Our Christmas Journey, he became the first autistic actor to portray a character with the same condition.

In the film, Sanchez starred as the 18-year-old Marcus, who lives with his mother and struggles to fit in as someone on the autism spectrum.

In an interview with Monsters Critics, Sanchez discusses the importance of letting autistic actors play characters like them.

When looking back at his foray into acting, Sanchez said:

“I have always loved role-playing and creating characters ever since I was a kid. My mom put me in acting classes when I was five years old, but my ADHD was in full force then, and I had a hard time sitting still. The instructor told me I wouldn’t do well because I had the attention span of a gnat. I mean, I never stopped role-playing, but I just did it with family and friends until a couple of years ago.”

Holly Robinson Peete, who played Sanchez’ mother in Our Christmas Journey, stressed the importance of casting an autistic actor in the film, saying:

“It was very important for us to find an actor with autism. The representation is so needed. When we found Nik, it was like jackpot.”

Actors such as Dustin Hoffman, Freddie Highmore, and Dakota Fanning have all achieved rave reviews for their on-screen portrayals of autistic characters.

While some feel such actors have done the roles justice, autistic actors like Sanchez have expressed a need to stop hiring neurotypical actors in these roles.

Unfortunately, Hollywood creatives tend to sideline anyone that does not fit the norm, believing autistic actors to be difficult to work with.

While legends such as Sir Anthony Hopkins, Daryl Hannah, and Dan Aykroyd have proven their worth on and off the screen, many newer autistic actors have not been given the opportunity they deserve.

While it is great to see autistic actors playing autistics these parts should not be exclusive to autistic actors. NT Dakota Fanning's portrayal in ‘Please Stand By’ (free with ads on Youtube) remains my favorite. What these people who demand Autistic exclusivity for Autistics fail to think about is this can work both ways. If autistic actors can not play NT’s autistic actors would be excluded from most parts. Considering how much we mask and pretend to be normal a lot of us are good at playing NT parts.


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“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman


Double Retired
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18 Jan 2022, 4:07 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
If autistic actors can not play NT’s autistic actors would be excluded from most parts.

Agreed!

Autistic actors should have a fair chance to win autistic roles—and also non-Autistic roles. And an Autistic character should be played by someone who can do a performances that best fits the show—even if the actor is not Autistic.

And, where would you draw the line? Who do you hire to play someone with a terminal disease? Extreme dementia?

Who would you get to play a serial-killer?

Should you limit roles based on nationality? Religion?

I am much more concerned about how the show and character represent Autism rather than how they manage to do it.

P.S. On Star Trek, very few of the Klingon characters were played by real Klingons!


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CockneyRebel
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19 Jan 2022, 1:18 am

That's a step in the right direction.


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