I was diagnosed with ADHD at 31, two years after I graduated from drama school as a mature student, and immediately the long list of things I’d been struggling with as an actor began to make so much sense. Things that my peers seemed to find so easy, such as being on time and being able to focus in lengthy rehearsals, had always been extremely challenging for me. Last year, I also discovered I’m autistic. I was finally able to understand how my conditions affected me as an actor and begin to work with my brain rather than against it.
There’s so much that can be done to make our industry more accessible for neurodivergent people, and it starts with awareness and education. I’m currently writing a book that will serve as a guide for neurodivergent actors so I can share what I’ve learned so far. I want others to know how to best equip themselves for the industry and feel empowered to ask for accommodations when needed.
However, the responsibility to make our industry more accessible cannot lie with actors alone. All creatives working within our field have a duty to educate themselves on the needs of neurodivergent actors and how best to support them, whether in an educational setting or a professional one.
Neurodivergent actors are not a burden; we are a vibrant and vital part of our industry who deserve to be supported and championed just like any other.
My advice to other ND women would be to firstly, learn as much as possible about your brain and the way it works. Sounds obvious, but it really is essential. Secondly, connect with other ND women in your field. Having support from others who understand your experiences and the barriers you face is invaluable. And finally, don’t be afraid to take up space!