Samantha Elisofon

The Actorvist
Former Pace University student, Samantha Elisofon

Authenticity isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of acting, but Samantha Elisofon ’14 is helping redefine the face of film.

While movies and TV shows like The Good Doctor and Atypical are bringing visibility to people with autism spectrum disorders, more often than not they’re starring neurotypical actors.

Elisofon, who was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, has been making a name for herself in the industry, most recently with her portrayal of Sarah in Keep the Change, a rom-com that offers a refreshingly honest portrayal of people with autism, written for and starring actors on the autism spectrum. The film, which premiered in February 2018, won best US narrative feature and best director at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival and earned Elisofon a nomination for best actress. Part of numerous festivals around the world, Keep the Change won the FIPRESCI prize (an international film critic’s award), along with special jury mention at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic, and was bought by an Israeli distributor. The film has received praise from critics, including The New York Times, Variety, The Los Angeles Times, and IndieWire, which called Elisofon a “standout.”

 

 

 

Part of Pace’s OASIS program for students with autism and other learning differences and graduating cum laude from the University, Elisofon is continuing to raise awareness and advocate for the autism community through her work with two theatre companies. An inaugural member of EPIC Players, a uniquely inclusive theater company for talented performers with (and without) disabilities, Elisofon was a featured soloist in Hear Me Roar musical cabaret, was Van’s sister in Dog Sees God, starred as Lucy in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and will perform in Shakespeare’s The Tempest this spring. In April, she joined EPIC and Keep the Change at the UN World Awareness Day, where she talked about training and opportunities for actors on the spectrum. She also performs with DreamStreet Theatre Company, which provides education and inspiration for developmentally disabled individuals with a passion for the performing and creative arts, and will play the role of Winifred Banks in their production of Mary Poppins.

In addition, Elisofon can be seen in Good Time, a Cannes 2017 Competitive Selection starring Robert Pattinson.

“If I were to give the best advice to parents of a child on the autistic spectrum, I’d suggest that they learn to be very patient and teach their son or daughter how to persevere in both their strengths and weaknesses and to pursue their passions. Give your children the confidence to explore the world and learn to be flexible,” says Elisofon. “But the most important strategy is to set a wonderful example—keep on striving and never give up.”

Former Pace University student, Samantha Elisofon

Authenticity isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of acting, but Samantha Elisofon ’14 is helping redefine the face of film.

While movies and TV shows like The Good Doctor and Atypical are bringing visibility to people with autism spectrum disorders, more often than not they’re starring neurotypical actors.

Elisofon, who was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, has been making a name for herself in the industry, most recently with her portrayal of Sarah in Keep the Change, a rom-com that offers a refreshingly honest portrayal of people with autism, written for and starring actors on the autism spectrum. The film, which premiered in February 2018, won best US narrative feature and best director at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival and earned Elisofon a nomination for best actress. Part of numerous festivals around the world, Keep the Change won the FIPRESCI prize (an international film critic’s award), along with special jury mention at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Czech Republic, and was bought by an Israeli distributor. The film has received praise from critics, including The New York Times, Variety, The Los Angeles Times, and IndieWire, which called Elisofon a “standout.”

 

 

 

Part of Pace’s OASIS program for students with autism and other learning differences and graduating cum laude from the University, Elisofon is continuing to raise awareness and advocate for the autism community through her work with two theatre companies. An inaugural member of EPIC Players, a uniquely inclusive theater company for talented performers with (and without) disabilities, Elisofon was a featured soloist in Hear Me Roar musical cabaret, was Van’s sister in Dog Sees God, starred as Lucy in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, and will perform in Shakespeare’s The Tempest this spring. In April, she joined EPIC and Keep the Change at the UN World Awareness Day, where she talked about training and opportunities for actors on the spectrum. She also performs with DreamStreet Theatre Company, which provides education and inspiration for developmentally disabled individuals with a passion for the performing and creative arts, and will play the role of Winifred Banks in their production of Mary Poppins.

In addition, Elisofon can be seen in Good Time, a Cannes 2017 Competitive Selection starring Robert Pattinson.

“If I were to give the best advice to parents of a child on the autistic spectrum, I’d suggest that they learn to be very patient and teach their son or daughter how to persevere in both their strengths and weaknesses and to pursue their passions. Give your children the confidence to explore the world and learn to be flexible,” says Elisofon. “But the most important strategy is to set a wonderful example—keep on striving and never give up.”