Fearlessly Different: a shout-out to author Mickey Rowe.



One of the most rewarding projects I worked on last year was Mickey Rowe’s book, Fearlessly Different. When Mickey approached me, he had written a full manuscript and a book proposal to submit to agents, but he knew the proposal needed finessing. We worked together to make sure it had all the impact it needed to land him a deal with a great publisher, so that his story could reach the world. And now it has: Fearlessly Different (An Autistic Actor’s Journey to Broadway’s Biggest Stage) has been released by Rowman & Littlefield.


Mickey tells his story with a disarming mix of transparency, warmth, and power.


As an autistic and legally blind person, living in a society designed by and for non-disabled people, it was always made clear to Mickey the many things he was apparently incapable of doing. But Mickey did them all anyway—and he succeeded because of, not despite, his autism. He became the first autistic actor to play the lead role in the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, landed the title role in the play Amadeus, co-created the theatre/philanthropy company Arts on the Waterfront, and founded the National Disability Theatre.


In a wonderful interview with NPR KUOW Public Radio (listen or read transcript here), Mickey talks about something he calls “Disability Gain”:

“For full clarity, that's something I've stolen from the deaf community. The deaf community coined the term ‘Deaf Gain.’ Often people would say, ‘someone has hearing loss,’ right? And so the deaf community said, ‘No, they don't have hearing loss. They have deaf gain.’ But when I talk about disability gain, what I'm talking about is all the things that make someone even more incredible because of their disability. I think people with disabilities, their disabilities can make them more empathetic then maybe they would be without a disability. Their disabilities can make them better creative problem solvers. I think that disabled folks are some of the best creative problem solvers in the world because we have to be creative problem solvers every day to navigate a world that wasn't designed with us in mind. There are so many things like that. I think that we can shift our perspective to see disability as an asset sometimes, rather than only seeing it as a liability.”


Mickey was a dream to work with—whip-smart, collaborative, and clear in his vision for his book. He very kindly said to me, “I truly value your time, creativity, and expertise so much, Sally. I couldn’t afford NOT to work with you.”


I wish him every success as an author, an actor, an advocate, and a dad.


 

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