'Everything's Gonna Be Okay': Kayla Cromer is first actor on autism spectrum to play lead role in TV show
The show revolves around the themes of sexuality, autism, death, consent, parenting, and simply growing up
Josh Thomas' 'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' has become an audience favorite because of its realistic portrayal of comedy and grief. Making his debut with the acclaimed Australian show 'Please Like Me,' Thomas has managed to make a name for himself in the TV industry. With the release of his new Freeform show, we've seen his hilarious audacity being brought to life with an excellent narrative and impeccable casting. The show revolves around the themes of sexuality, autism, death, consent, parenting — and simply growing up.
Nicholas (Josh Thomas), a neurotic tween now has the responsibility of taking care of his half-sisters — Genevieve (Maeve Press) and Matilda (Kayla Cromer) — after the untimely death of their father. A truthful way of how humor can help in the process of healing from death has been portrayed by all characters and so it was deemed that each actor was perfectly chosen for their character in this grieve-stricken comedy. Josh Thomas told reporters how he cast the 'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' stars, especially how Cromer was a shoo-in for the role of Matilda.
Having been asked how he went about finding actors to play the characters on the show, Thomas explained how the audition was not the part he focused on. "We give them the role because I really like them and I find them really charming. And when we do an audition, like when they read the lines, that doesn't really matter that much to me. But like the 10-minute chat beforehand where we pal around, that matters a lot."
"Do you wanna tell them what happened on the day of your audition?" Thomas asked Cromer, and this is how we found out how Matilda came to be. "Well, I was at the beach at I don't know, like 6 am, just so I could have privacy going over my lines because I didn't wanna wake up my roommates. And while I was walking on the beach, I heard just a...like a crinkling snap and when I looked down, I realized I stepped on a piece of glass and nicked my tibial artery on my ankle. So, I took my pocket knife that was in my beach bag and I had to cut off a piece of my shirt, to make a makeshift tourniquet and use my highlighter so I wouldn't lose too much blood," began Cromer.
"I drove to urgent care by myself while releasing it every few minutes, so I wouldn't lose a foot. Getting to urgent care and them telling me, 'Kayla, I mean yes, you nicked an artery, but not fully so you didn't need a tourniquet. But you're the only person that's come in that actually knows how to do it right,'" continued Cromer. Thomas chimed in, "And like for me, you know, when I'm auditioning someone or they came in and that morning they made a tourniquet with a pocket knife they had in their bag and a highlighter I'm like, "Yeah, you're gonna bring something to the role."
Kayla Cromer revealed she was on the autism spectrum at a Freeform Summit press event making her as she said, "The first actor, male or female, with autism to be playing an autistic character in a leading role on a TV show."
When asked how being on the spectrum and working on the show has affected her life and her as an actor, Cromer said, "Well, in life, I would say difficult, because you know, I kept it in for so long since I was always afraid of being labeled autistic. But I came out at the Freeform Summit earlier last year, and I decided I have this role. This is the perfect role to come out with this, because doing the research I’m the first actor, male or female, with autism to be playing an autistic character in a leading role on a TV show. So this would open up so many doors to actors in the entertainment industry."
She also revealed, "The hardest thing, I would say, is — well, acting-wise, autism honestly doesn’t really affect me as much, but that is just me personally, just because I’m one person with autism. The hardest thing I would say, on set, is trying to understand Josh’s sarcasm."
Thomas, who plays an intense character himself shared how the show was birthed and how decided the need for a narrative with autism at its crux. "I wanted a show with autism at the center because I was really interested in it. Honestly, because I knew so little about it and I thought this is crazy that I’m so dumb about this. What happened was I watched a documentary called 'Autism in Love.' And I read the title and I thought, wait, can people with autism feel love? And two minutes later, I was like, 'That’s the stupidest question. You’re an idiot. Why did you think that?' And the fact that I was so dumb was interesting to me and then I just spent months and months researching and learning about it. And I wanted it to be, like, a central focus of a show."
'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' airs every Thursday at 7:30c on Freeform.