By: Audrey Rock
DTLA, CA (The Hollywood Times) 10/23/17 – One of the most beautiful and inclusive events of the year took place Saturday night at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles. A courtyard covered in blue, the moody hue beloved by individuals on the autism spectrum all over the world, greeted guests supporting Autism Speaks, the organization at the forefront of supporting research into causes and better treatments for the disorder. Into the Blue also did a dazzling job of increasing awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders, through a blue carpet featuring A-list celebrities; an Escada fashion show on the blue runway; a glamorous awards ceremony, and an auction.
The deep blue carpet, the harbinger of a gorgeous evening, included host Keltie Knight of Entertainment Tonight, Evan Handler of Californication, Whitney Carson of Dancing With the Stars, model/actress Garcelle Beauvais, Logan Shroyer of This is Us, Cameron Boyce of Descendants, Becca Tilley of Scrubbing In With Becca Tilley, Tamara Taylor of Bones, Massi Furlan of Live By Night, and Courtney Paige Nelson of America’s Next Top Model, and Erin Murphy of Bewitched, among others.
Prominently among them was Freddie Highmore, known as a youth for his role as Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and more recently as Norman Bates in Bates Motel. But most importantly, he was there to represent his role as Shaun Murphy, a surgeon with autism and savant syndrome. Highmore explained how he connected to, and researched, his character.
“Of course, there’s a personal connection to people who have autism,” Highmore told THT while mingling after the blue carpet. “And at the same time, there were documentaries and various pieces of literature, speaking with specialists. So hopefully, as broad a spectrum of research as possible to inform the character, but as you know the show is not going to be able to represent everyone with autism. So it’s finding his own idiosyncrasies and what makes him stand out. When you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
Highmore said he benefitted enormously from the brilliant work of writer David Shore as well. “What I love about David’s writing is the fact that Shaun isn’t emotionless,” Highmore said. “Sometimes there’s the stereotype of someone with autism who lacks emotion, but Shaun is so fully fleshed out and rich, and…you know what makes him laugh, what makes him smile, his sense of humor, and what makes him fall in love, and people he likes, and all of that goes into creating his character.”
After appetizers, drinks, and mingling among the blue lights, guests were ushered from the elegantly decorated courtyard into historical Union Station, where numbered tables and a blue runway were set up for the program and fashion show. Entertainment Tonight’s Keltie Knight energetically hosted; Amanda Anderson, a gifted vocalist performed opera. And an auction was held to raise money for Autism Speaks’ mission of research and awareness. Escada’s fall 2017 collection was showcased. And awards were given to the guests of honor.
Skip Keesal of Keesal, Young and Logan, legendary industry attorney and sponsor of the event, was given the Advocate Award at the outset. He’s received a lifetime achievement award for America’s Top 100 Attorneys, among other prestigious honors. Keesal has given “unparalleled support” to all autism organizations, including Autism Speaks.
“From where I sit, the spotlight should be reversed,” said Keesal. “You folks are absolutely wonderful. You’ve adapted, or you’re learning about something that needs fixing. We may not be able to fix it all, we may not be able to fix it at all. But the efforts that are being put forward by all of you folks were to make you the recipients, or should be recipients, of the nice things that are being given to us, and are being given to others.”
The Acceleration Award was presented to Dr. Connie Kasari of UCLA, and the Legacy award was presented to the Stills Family, led by Kristen Stills, whose work with Autism Speaks has been extensive. The Influence Award was presented to Cintas; and the final award, The Awareness Award, was presented to Sony Pictures Television and ABC’s The Good Doctor. Writer/creator David Shore, producers Erin Gunn and Lindsay Goffman, and star Freddie Highmore accepted the award.
“Thank you to autism speaks for the incredible work you do to raise awareness and understanding and to promote solutions for the needs of individuals with autism and their families,” said Gunn while accepting the award.
The evening wound down with the Escada runway show and a performance by the dynamic Emmanuel Kelley, whose very presence reminded the audience that no disability can take the pure joy out of life.
To learn more about Autism Speaks, go to www.autismspeaks.org. The Good Doctor airs Mondays on ABC at 10/9c.