Sue Ann Pien Brings Autism Representation to Amazon's Screen as We Look It's Next Big Thing

Sue Ann Pien Brings Autism Representation to Amazon's Screen as We Look It's Next Big Thing ...

Sue Ann Pien is the first person to take on the role of Jason Katims' new Amazon series As We See It, which features three 20-something roommates. Violet is a fast food business while dreaming of having her first boyfriend and navigating a complicated relationship with her brother Van, played by Chris Pang.

"The first time I read the script, I really cried," says Pien, who likes Rick Glassman and Albert Rutecki is on the spectrum herself.

Katims wrote for the character before meeting Pien he genuinely happened to her, like when Violet goes on a Bumble date and the man takes an excuse to go to the bathroom, but actually leaves the room as he prepares to return. It took away a lot of this loneliness I had from my youth.

"Sue Ann is a great actress and her ability to be both openly intelligent and in touch with her emotional world,," says Katims, whose previous roles are based on Asperger syndrome. "She never utters a false note as an actress, it all comes from some deep, true place inside of her. "She is also a fantastic figure to work with.

Pien, an L.A. native born to Taiwanese parents, with an aerospace engineer father, recalls having trouble making friends growing up, bringing her to the realization that she was different from her peers a year ago.

As We See It has now been led to a career that Pien says allowed her to express herself in ways she hadnt been permitted to in the past like when shed get in trouble in acting school for being out of line where people dont have a lot of tolerance for that.

Im really sensitive to sound and noises, and I have to mask it a lot on other sets, Pien says. I wasnt afraid of something bad happening. I was around other actors and people who have loved ones on the spectrum, so it felt like everyone was very intuitive about who I am and what I needed, he says.

Pien believes that authentic casting was an asset to her and that it made a statement in the entertainment industry at large: "I think it's going to open up a world of possibilities and acceptance for actors with diverse abilities."

Pien is looking forward to playing in Denis Villeneuve's Dune sequel (she's such an avid space fan that she was among the 100 candidates for the now-defunct Mars One mission to colonize the planet on a one-way trip). And after feeling like the journey to this role made "everything finally make sense, everything that I was doing as a person on the autism spectrum," she hopes As We See It will impact the public's view of autistic people.

A version of this story was first published in the January 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

You may also like: