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Dakota Fanning Plays a Woman on the Autism Spectrum in 'Please Stand By'

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Hollywood is adding a female face to its cinematic portrayals of life on the autism spectrum with its new movie “Please Stand By.” The film stars Dakota Fanning as Wendy, an autistic woman living in a group home who runs away to enter a “Star Trek” writing competition.

Wendy watches “Star Trek” every night before bed after she gets home from work at Cinnabon. The movie centers on her journey to Los Angeles with her small dog.

In Theaters + On Demand January 26

Please Stand By trailer: Dakota Fanning stars as a woman who escapes a group home hoping to get her Star Trek script produced in Hollywood. On the way she must conquer a new world full of challenges. Also starring Toni Collette, Alice Eve and Patton Oswalt.

Posted by Please Stand By on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

While Fanning isn’t autistic, the movie’s writer, Micahel Golamco, tweeted that the movie employed others on screen who are on the spectrum.

The Mighty has reached out to both Golamco and Magnolia Pictures for more information.

Twenty percent of Americans have a disability, but less than 2 percent of characters on television have a disability, according to the Ruderman Family Foundation. When people with disabilities are portrayed, most of them are played by actors without disabilities, despite there being a pool of actors on the spectrum and with disabilities.

“Please Stand By” differs from other Hollywood portrayals of autism, which typically show autism from the perspective of white males like Sam in “Atypical” or Dr. Shaun Murphy in “The Good Doctor.” Although men are 4.5 times more likely to be on the spectrum, it is important to represent autistic women and their experience.

The film also sheds light on elopement. According to a 2012 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, of the children on the spectrum studied, 49 percent had eloped. Kids that ran away typically went to find a place they enjoyed or tried to get out of an uncomfortable situation. While Fanning’s character is not a child, she does elope to do something she enjoys.

Within the autism community, initial reactions to the movie’s trailer have been mixed.

The movie also stars Toni Collette, Alice Eve, Jessica Rothe and Patton Oswalt, and will be released in theaters Jan. 26 as well as on-demand, Amazon Video and iTunes.


Image via Wikimedia Commons/Tabercil

Originally published: December 21, 2017
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