Emily Carey’s Authentic Autism Portrayal In Netflix’s ‘Geek Girl’

The TV series promises a genuine and honest portrayal of the neurodivergent experience

Key Takeaways

  • For Carey, playing an autistic character allowed her to openly embrace and “unmask” her own autism on set.
  • Seeing an autistic character like Harriet on screen is an invaluable representation.
  • While some have criticized whether the show authentically depicts autism, Smale has defended it.

In the highly anticipated Netflix adaptation of the popular YA book series Geek Girl, actress Emily Carey plays Harriet Manners, an awkward, neurodivergent teenage model who balances high school and high fashion.

What makes Carey’s performance particularly authentic is that, like her character, she has autism.

Author Holly Smale wrote the original “Geek Girl” books before her own autism diagnosis but has since realized the protagonist, Harriet, exhibits autistic traits as well.

I didn’t have to worry too much because I’m autistic, I have my own life experience so I can own that voice,” Smale said of bringing Harriet’s neurodivergence to the screen.

For Carey, playing an autistic character allowed her to openly embrace and “unmask” her own autism on set.

I was unmasking on set and to then portray that on camera was very new to me and difficult to navigate at times,” she admitted.

However, she found the experience cathartic, allowing her to revisit her younger self.

It felt like I was releasing something that my inner child needed to release somewhere,” Carey explained.

The personal connection she felt to the character is what initially drew Carey to the project.

I became so attached to the books because the character made me feel so incredibly seen… at a time when I felt so strongly like I didn’t belong anywhere,” she revealed.

Seeing an autistic character like Harriet on screen is an invaluable representation.

While some have criticized whether the show authentically depicts autism, Smale has defended it, stating,

“It’s based on books written by me (autistic), about me as a teen (autistic). I wrote all of Harriet for the show (still autistic) and the lead actor is autistic.”

Smale

With both the author (Holly Smale) and lead actress (Emily Carey) being autistic themselves, Geek Girl promises a genuine and honest portrayal of the neurodivergent experience through Carey’s powerful performance as Harriet Manners.

In Case You Didn’t Know

  • Emily Carey uses the pronoun they/she according to her Instagram bio.
  • She played the younger version of Prince Diana in Wonder Woman (2017).
  • She also played the young Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander’s version) in the movie Tomb Raider.

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