Which actress will star in this history-making Hallmark movie?
Imagine young children seeing a superhero or famous scientists on screen whose image looks like them. Back in 2018, many children experienced history by seeing Black Panther since it was their first time seeing a superhero of color on screen. Not to mention, it was a groundbreaking masterpiece gaining over $900 million dollars.
Black Panther was composed of a predominantly black cast, black director, costume designers, hairstylists and more, openly producing representation in a positive light. Those of us in our twenties can look back at Static Shock, thinking we were long overdue for more minority superheroes. But this article isn’t about race.
Just last year while Holly Robinson Peete was promoting her two Hallmark holiday movies, the actress mentioned she wanted to do a film featuring someone on the autism spectrum. Now, she has her chance! Society has gone a long time poorly understanding autism and we’ve come a long way from that time. Part of creating a more inclusive world is changing representation in the arts.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Don’t worry, we won’t go too deep in science. But Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability causing significant communication, social and behavioral challenges. You may not know that someone has ASD without them telling you but the way they may communicate, behave, interact, and even learn in ways that are different from most of their peers.
The disorder is known as a spectrum because hardly any two people with it are the same. The learning, thinking, and problem solving abilities of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder varies from gifted to severely challenged. Big Bang Theory’s character Sheldon Cooper is speculated to be on the spectrum. Some people with ASD are just as independent as most of us while others need a lot of help in their lives.
An ASD diagnosis includes several conditions like Asperger syndrome that used to be diagnosed separately. Signs of ASD in children and adults include but are not limited to avoiding eye contact and wanting to be alone. They may be very interested in people but have no idea how to talk, play or interact with them. They may also have trouble understanding other people’s feelings.
The Christmas Bond
Holly Robinson Peete is a star and executive producer of The Christmas Bond (a working title). It’s an upcoming 2021 holiday movie for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries also starring Lyriq Bent and Nik Sanchez. The film is set to begin production right now.
The story follows a single mother (Peete) and her teenage son with autism (Sanchez). They’ll come to a crossroad during Christmas. She’ll have to learn to let go of her son who deserves to flourish on his own. But in the midst of everything, she will find her “heart healing in unexpected ways,” according to the network. Peete says, “I am making this movie for my son RJ, others with autism and their families.”
“I am grateful to Hallmark for bringing this story to screen with authenticity, respect and hope.” Having a son with autism, Holly has been quite active for such individuals for more than two decades through her HollyRod Foundation. Plus, Sanchez will not only play a young man with autism, but he “prides himself in being awesomely autistic,” in the words of his rep.
Hallmark is excited and honored to welcome actress Holly Robinson Peete, helping her bring the personal and beautiful story to life. The film is set to debut later this on Hallmark as part of their Miracles of Christmas programming event.
How do you feel about ASD representation in the arts? Productions welcoming actors and actresses on the spectrum? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.