Autistic actor to portray a character with autism on Israeli TV for the 1st time

‘I felt that nothing on television represented me,’ says Geffen Kaminer, who is starring in the upcoming series ‘East Side’

Israeli actress Geffen Kaminer. (Israel TV screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright law)
Israeli actress Geffen Kaminer. (Israel TV screenshot; used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright law)

An Israeli actress is set to become the first autistic performer to portray a character with autism on Israeli television.

Geffen Kaminer, 18, has taken up the role in the upcoming series “East Side,” starring Yehuda Levi, on the Kan public broadcaster.

Levi plays a doting father to Kaminer’s character, Maya, on the show.

Autistic characters have featured in Israeli television shows in recent years, but were never portrayed by an actor with autism.

“I felt that nothing on television represented me,” Kaminer said in an interview with Kan. “It’s not me, and it’s not like me.”

“She’s on the spectrum, like me,” Kaminer said of her character.

Kaminer said a casting call for an autistic performer went out in an online group for the mothers of autistic children. She signed up, went through a number of auditions, and got the role.

Kaminer said she had been a difficult child, and was diagnosed at age 6, but her parents were advised to not tell her at that age, and she found out when she was 9.

She said she had struggled in school, had felt out of place, and that adolescence and its social challenges were particularly hard for autistic youth.

"אני אוטיסטית מקולקלת": גפן קמינר מככבת בסדרת חדשה לצד יהודה לוי

"ידעתי שאני לא כמו כולם, אבל לא העזתי לשאול"גפן קמינר גילתה שיש לה אוטיזם בגיל 9, אחרי חיפוש קצר בגוגל. עכשיו היא מספרת איך נראית זוגיות על הרצף, למה היא קוראת לעצמה אוטיסטית מקולקלת – ועל הסדרה החדשה שבה היא משחקת לצד יהודה לוי#השבועעםגאולה

Posted by ‎כאן חדשות‎ on Saturday, April 30, 2022

She had trouble expressing herself, and voicing her difficulties, and would sometimes lash out at teachers and other students, she said.

“It’s really frustrating to be autistic, especially during adolescence,” she said.

“Basically, I don’t feel like everyone else. I don’t know what’s different for me because I don’t know what’s happening with them,” she said.

“Everything that’s obvious to them, like going out, finding work, getting married, doing the army, it’s not obvious to us,” she said.

She said she’s now in a better school, and acting has helped her cope with those frustrations.

“The stage gives me strength. I put aside all the drama, all the problems, and just do what I do,” she said.

“Acting is always something that lights a fire in me. It’s a tool that really helps someone like me,” she said.

An acclaimed Israeli television series, “On the Spectrum,” released in 2018, portrayed three 20-something roommates with autism living together in an assisted-living apartment. The show’s writer, Dana Idisis, has a younger brother on the spectrum.

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