A couple of months ago, we shared the news that the wonderful Talia Grant, child of National Autistic Society Parent Campaigners, David and Carrie Grant, was going to grace our screens on Channel 4’s Hollyoaks.

We sat down with our new ambassador, Talia, ahead of her debut and asked her a few questions:

How does it feel to be the first autistic actor to land a part in a mainstream soap opera?

I cannot even tell you how proud and blessed I feel. It was one of my family friends who saw the advert on social media and I love the way the makers of Hollyoaks went about casting. We all had a picture of the building and the people who would be there and we were told exactly what would happen in the audition. This really helped me as I find unpredictability and change difficult. When I was told I had got the role I just couldn’t believe it…..I still can’t. It’s like a dream come true. I have wanted to act for as long as I can remember. 

How have other autistic people responded to the news that Hollyoaks is going to have an autistic female character?

Everything I have seen has been really positive so far. I have also connected with a lot of other black autistic people, like myself, this is a first for me and for them! This has been really cool as I’m meeting new people and I love the idea that we can help each other out.

There are definitely more autistic characters on TV now, but most of them are male. Your mum, Carrie, has said “I'm really pleased that we're getting different images of autism out there now, it's not just one thing, it's really multifaceted.” – do you think that’s the challenge now, to get different portrayals of autism represented so people have a better idea of autism as a spectrum?

100% yes, the media and TV have a big role to play in getting awareness out there. We have to accept that Brooke is one character, she will never be able to represent everyone, but hopefully she will show a little bit of what autism can look like.

Is your character, Brooke Hathaway, a lot like you? How would you describe her autism?

She is like me in some ways but definitely not in others. I would describe Brooke’s autism as follows: She masks as happy go lucky but underneath she is anxious about getting things wrong - in fact she is worried about getting everything wrong. Sometimes she reads situations wrongly and at other times she has real insight, but doubts herself. She is incredibly literal and this gets her into some very funny situations and some very tricky ones too. She is super sensitive to sound and wears her headphones to help her shut out the outside world and overload. She’s also incredibly likeable, kind and empathetic.

You can catch Talia on First Look Hollyoaks tonight (9 July 2018) on E4 from 7pm. 

Talia’s full interview will be in the next issue of Your Autism Magazine – out next month! You can receive a copy of the magazine, as well as other great benefits, by becoming member today.