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By Disabled People for Disabled People

Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

The A Word: Actor Travis Smith on autism and Asperger’s – BBC News

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“I think I connect with acting because of how I always had to put a face on in public. I was never really myself. I was always playing a character.”

Travis Smith, a 17-year-old from Pontypool, Torfaen, has just starred in series two of The A Word, a critically-acclaimed BBC drama about a young boy who has autism.

It is a subject Travis knows plenty about – he is on the autistic spectrum himself.

Diagnosed with autism and Asperger’s syndrome while in primary school, Travis faced a unique journey to fulfil his dream of becoming an actor.

“I was always seen as the naughty kid in school,” he said, “the bad kid who didn’t listen”.

“They’d be angry about my panic attacks. Most of the time I’d find it hard to even get to school. I had extremely bad anxiety and I was out of school more than I was in.

“But my love of acting was always there. I’d done youth groups and drama was my favourite thing in school.”

Travis’s breakthrough role playing Mark in The A Word still came as shock.

It started when his mum found an advert for autistic actors to audition for the show. He took some convincing because of his anxiety but eventually relented and drove to London to audition in front of the show’s director Susan Tully, producer Jenny Frayn and casting director Andy Prior.

“It was about a 10 minute audition. At the end I looked up and said ‘was that alright?’ I’ll never forget Sue Tully’s words.

“She said: ‘Travis. You are a great actor’.”

A few weeks later Travis was on set in the Lake District with the likes of Lee Ingleby, Morven Christie and Christopher Eccleston.

Read more at: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-42722129

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