A St. Louis sixth grader with autism is sharing his message of inclusion and understanding with Hollywood. The 12-year-old is using his acting skills in a new Netflix show to take on the stigmas of his disorder.
Out of thousands of children with autism from around the country, Charlie Owens of Clayton was chosen for the role in a groundbreaking new Netflix children's show called Mack & Moxy.
Each episode of the Netflix show sheds light on a different type of disability or life situation and encourages children to accept their peers as they are.
"They're helping get awareness up, produce a society that is more accepting and that doesn't just say, 'Oh that parent is bad' because the child is having a tantrum," said Craig Owens, Charlie's Father.
"I want people to be patient with me and be friends!" said Charlie Owens.
According to Easterseals, a disability group that worked on the episode, Owen's silver screen debut marks the first time a child nonactor with autism has been featured in a large scale production.
"They said it was one of the smoothest tapings they had," said Craig.
Charlie's experience filming the episode in Hollywood has given him a new sense of confidence, according to his parents. He says when he grows up, he wants to be an actor.
"I like hanging out with the directors," said Charlie.
In the 10 years since Charlie was diagnosed, his parents say they're lucky autism awareness has increased so much in recent years.
"Whether they're making some vocalization or they're distracted or not looking at you. they may be very tuned into what you're doing, saying and feeling and be really hoping they make a new friend," said Craig.
Mack & Moxy is available now on Netflix. Other topics featured in the show include healthy eating habits, how to deal with emergency situations and unemployment in families.