Disney Channel has greenlighted The A Girl, a single-camera comedy pilot about a teenage girl on the autism spectrum. It comes from Brenda Hampton, creator of the very successful teen dramas 7th Heaven and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. She had three consultants in writing the script: Autism Speaks, The Miracle Project and Hollywood, Health and Society.
Cast as the lead is 17-year-old Stacy Wiener, in her first acting job. Also starring are Dora Dolphin, Australian actor Cameron Caulfield, Faly Rakotohavan, Noah Ziggy James and Amy Farrington. Steven K. Tsuchida is directing.
The A Girl follows the unlikely friendship between two girls who are forced together in a new “Friends Program” in their middle school: Daisy (Dolphin), the Queen Bee, who isn’t used to being told the truth, and Zoe (Wiener), a girl on the autism spectrum who would rather fly solo, and who can’t help do anything but that. They are completely different but find out they have more in common than they thought.
Caulfield play Dwayne, a jock, the Mayor’s son and Daisy’s older brother. James plays Henry, Dwayne’s younger brother. Farrington plays August, Zoe’s mom. Rakotohavan plays Ian, a kid at Zoe’s school who is new to town.
There have been a number of TV series featuring protagonists with autism in the past few years. Netflix has the popular coming-of-age show Atypical, about the life of 18-year-old Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), who is on the autism spectrum. ABC has hit medical drama The Good Doctor starring Freddie Highmore as a young savant autistic surgical resident. And NBC is developing The A Word, a drama series based on an Israeli format about a family’s journey after their 5-year-old son is diagnosed with autism.
Disney Channel’s shows have gotten more inclusive. The Disney network made headlines last fall when a key character on its popular tween series Andi Mack realized he was gay and came out to his friends — a first on the channel.
Dolphin is repped by CESD, LINK and Zoom Talent. Caulfield is repped by Charmain Gilcrist in Australia and Zero Gravity Management in LA. Before switching to drama, Hampton worked on half-hour comedy series including Mad About You and Blossom.