By Ron Sandison
I love watching on Hulu the comedy television series Everything’s Gonna Be Okay created by Australian comedian Josh Thomas. My favorite actress on the show is Kayla Cromer who plays the autistic character Matilda. I was inspired by Kayla’s journey with autism and her unique sense of humor.
1. What hometown are you from and what was your childhood like?
I’m from a small town in Northern California and was brought up in a home surrounded by love. At that time, both my parents worked, so my grandparents would watch me after school. They fostered a lot of rescue animals, which I adored. Outdoor adventures were my favorite, especially camping! I loved food and still do!
2. How did your learning difficulties affect you as a child and what age were you diagnosed?
Even though I put a lot of effort into my studies, I had difficulties keeping up with academic standards and standardized tests. I started tutoring and testing during Pre-K, because I struggled with reading, writing, math and social cues. Soon after, I was diagnosed with Dyslexia and then Asperger’s.
3. How did your parents support your unique abilities?
I am a great visual learner and very creative. My dad used to pick up appliances from Goodwill for me to take apart. I loved seeing how they worked. I also love art! My mom always kept an eye out for art contests for me to enter. I’ve loved movies since I was little and would watch many of them all together over and over again
My parents knew that I tried extra hard at school and had the desire to succeed, so they found Charwell School for me to help me achieve my goals. My mom even quit her job and would drive me 100+miles to/from Charwell daily for years to ensure that I received a good education. We sacrificed as a family and it saved me. I am forever thankful!
4. What sparked your interest in parapsychology?
One time, I was very ill with E-Coli and started reading about unexplained mysteries. Studying phenomenon that defy scientific explanations fascinates me, as does doing research and re-evaluating cases.
5. As a child what were your favorite movies and television shows?
In the early years I loved spending Saturday mornings watching “Sponge Bob Square Pants” with my Dad. Growing up I couldn’t get enough of TV series like “SVU” and “America’s Most Wanted” and movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “The Hunger Games,” “Lord of the Rings,” the “Harry Potter” series and all of the Disney movies. Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi and True Crime are my favorite genres.
6. When did you decide to become a model and actress?
It just kind of happened. Modeling really helped me gain poise which in turn has helped me as an actress.
7. Who were some of your mentors/teachers in the modeling and film industry? What lessons did you learn from them?
One specific acting teacher once told me to embrace my genuine self and that has really helped me open up as an actress. I also use to study the poses of actresses who booked international beauty campaigns for brands like Chanel, Lancôme, and Dior. That helped me in my modeling career quite a bit.
8. How have your parents encouraged your career in modeling and acting? What advice did they give you?
My parents know that I am dedicated and work hard, so they’ve always been supportive in whatever I pursued. They have always encouraged me to do my best, have good character and treat people with kindness.
9. What ignited your modeling / acting career?
My modeling really picked-up after a photo taken of me went viral and resulted in me being signed. Seeing Kiera Knightly make movies and flourish as an actress, even though she struggled with Dyslexia, really inspired me to act.
10. How has Asperger’s helped you as an actress and how does it make you unique?
Easy isn’t something I know. For me personally, my hard work and dedication helps me dig deep into scripts and characters. I really am creative and think I see things other people won’t see.
11. What was your greatest challenge in transitioning in adulthood? How did you overcome it?
My fear of driving. I started off on country roads and moved on from there. I knew it was something I had to conquer! Now I drive everywhere in Los Angeles traffic! I think it would be cool to drive across the country on a road trip one day.
12. What are some similarities between you and your character Matilda?
We both can be hysterical without knowing it. We are both strong-willed and accept our differences and advocate for ourselves. We love our families and want to fit in socially with others and find love.
13. How has Everything’s Gonna Be Okay opened opportunities for you as an advocate for the neurodiverse community?
The TV series, Freeform and Disney have really amplified my voice. Disney is very dedicated to inclusion too!! The exposure has led to many media opportunities.
14. What advice would you give young adults who want to pursue a career in modeling or acting?
For modeling, I would say to build your confidence up with home photoshoots and see if you like it. Approach small boutiques and offer to model for free for their social media posts (with parental approval of course). Stay away from modeling school scams and submit to legit modeling agencies. For acting, I would suggest joining community or school theater classes. Both of these areas have opportunities in front and behind the camera. Explore all those options. Once you find your passion, learn everything you can and pursue it!
15. How can the film industry advocate for people with disabilities?
First, I strongly believe you need to be your own advocate entering this business. I do believe entertainment companies are now building diverse decision makers at the helm. Those that I have worked with are open, compassionate, creative and working towards an environment for all to thrive in. It’s really about communication and working towards inclusion.
16. Please share a humorous story from your past?
In high school, I really wanted to fit in and one day they hosted a “Jeans Day” where everyone was allowed to wear jeans. I wanted to wear Skinny jeans, but they were so tight (LOL) I put baby powder on my legs to get them to slide on better. I was so proud. When I walked into class that day, I sat down too quickly and my jeans went POOF! All the baby powder kind of blasted out of them!!
17. What are your future goals?
I am VERY career focused and want to give my career everything I can!!! Hit it from all angles. I am currently paving a path for myself and recently added a management team. I want to pursue feature films and book neurotypical roles, to show my range. I want to continue with my career, get married to a kind man, buy a house with land, have rescue animals and travel for work and pleasure.
18. What would be your dream film to act in and why?
Definitely Marvel! Or a film involving a physical transformation. I LOVE fitness!
To physically train for an adventure-type film would be a dream come true! Totally amazing! I would work my tail off!
Kayla Cromer’s Biography
Kayla Cromer has always had a love for acting! Ever since seeing “Pirates of the Caribbean and The Curse of the Black Pearl”, with her parents, the film ignited her passion, even more. Before Kayla started to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, her original goal was to attend the FBI Academy to become a Criminal Profiler. A San Francisco photoshoot photo soared across social media and launched her modeling career. Cromer has appeared on magazine covers and editorials nationwide, which led to her getting represented in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
At present, Kayla is seriously focusing on her acting career. She appeared in an episode of TLC “Ghost Brothers” as a guest investigator and just finished filming the feature film “Apparition”. Kayla has been cast in the Feature Film “Okinawa” as Sniper’s Wife that is now in Pre-Production. Kayla recently wrapped the pilot episode of Freeform’s & Avalon Entertainment’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay” as the female lead Matilda.
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of America. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House and Thought, Choice, Action. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes. Ron’s third book Views from the Spectrum will be released on May 25, 2021.
He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.