The representation of people with autism in the mainstream media is taking a big leap forward as Talia Grant has become the first autistic actress to land a role in British television soap opera with a part in Channel 4 drama Hollyoaks.
Making her debut in June as the new foster daughter of the Osbornes, Grant will play the autistic teen Brooke Hathaway. The actress, who identifies as having high-functioning autism, is looking forward to representing “autistic women of colour” on UK television screens.
She says: “I am so excited to be joining Hollyoaks. I have met some of the cast and being on set was fun and everyone was super-nice and made me feel welcome.
“For a long while there has been no representation on screen of autistic women of colour so I am really looking forward to developing the character of Brooke and representing something that perhaps people are unaware of.”
The show’s Executive Producer, Bryan Kirkwood is excited about what Grant will bring to the screen and has been enthusiastic in his praising of her audition.
He says: “We are delighted that the search for Brooke uncovered brilliant new talent Talia, whose auditions were joyful. She will bring a new different voice into the show and we are very excited about her arrival into the Osbornes where she will bring a secret from the past.”
Working closely with Grant to write and develop her personality, Kirkwood spoke of how Brooke is a: “strong, independent character who has a solid handle on what it means to be a teenage girl with autism” and teased that she will be facing some trouble at school.
“The best way to describe Brooke’s autism is to say that she experiences the world a hundred times more intensely than other people. Every light shines brighter, every smell is stronger – and every word she takes to heart that little bit more.”
Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, says: “We’re absolutely delighted that Hollyoaks is introducing an autistic character into the show and that an autistic actor is playing the part. It’s really encouraging to see more TV script writers representing autistic characters in their work.”