CONNECTICUT, USA — Growing up, Quinnipiac University student Justin Janoson never saw characters on television that he could see himself in. He has ADHD and his twin sister is autistic. Two things that he says weren't really represented in media.
"I wanted to create something that a younger me could look up and could relate to it," Janoson said.
So as a film student, he set off to create his own show. "What's the Rule" is a coming-of-age series that tells the story of twin sisters, Sam who has ADHD, and Jack, who is autistic. Both trying to navigate public school together for the first time.
Janoson created it with the goal of making sure the characters are portrayed accurately and he did that by hiring actors who are neurodivergent themselves.
"When you're telling a story about a community that's marginalized you want to make sure that it's correct," he said.
It's allowed the actors to become the representation they'd always hoped to see.
"I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 7 after years of trying to be diagnosed. One of the factors to not being diagnosed was that I was a female and at the time it wasn't really known for females to be autistic," said Kayleigh Jayne. "I was learning about my disability through the stereotypes. Which was the hardest part."
"My character is non-binary and I am also so it was really amazing being able to bring that into the production and not only have neurodiverse characters but also have LGBTQ+ characters," said Tianna Alley.
The cast and crew said their hope is that the show makes a difference and the response they've gotten so far, proves they already are.
"People are saying how they've never felt more represented in their life and even commented how they started crying at the end or started getting emotional," Janoson said.
It doesn't end here though, Janoson said he wants to continue to create opportunities for people with disabilities on and off the screen.
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"I want to hire disabled people to be able to work on these productions and things like this whether we make more shows that focus on disabilities or not," he said.
The first episode of "What's the Rule" is out now, you can watch it here.
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