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Mickey  Rowe

Mickey Rowe

Founder & Artistic Director of National Disability Theatre

Biography

As an autistic and legally blind person living in a society designed by and for non-disabled people, it was always made clear to Mickey Rowe the many things he was apparently incapable of doing. But Rowe did them all anyway—and he succeeded because of, not in spite of, his autism. Read More >

Rowe has had a prolific and varied career as an actor, director and public speaker and is highly sought after both nationally and internationally. He became the first autistic actor to play Christopher Boone, the lead role in the Tony Award-winning play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” This also made him the first autistic actor to ever play any autistic character in a professional performance setting. He then landed the title role in the play Amadeus and co-created the theatre/philanthropy company Arts on the Waterfront.

Rowe is also the founder and Artistic Director of National Disability Theatre, which works in partnership with Tony Award-winning companies such as La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and more. National Disability Theatre productions re-imagine disability and universal design as key storytelling and design elements showcasing that people can be successful not just in spite of their challenges, but also because of them. National Disability Theatre's productions feature only professional artists, artisans and designers with disabilities.

As an autistic child and through school, Rowe had no friends but found sanctuary as an audience member in theater and the performing arts. His tenacious pursuit of his goals, and his belief that our differences and perceived weaknesses are actually our strengths, have allowed him to live his dream. Rowe is also a husband and a father, learning how to effectively communicate through all types of relationships — professional and romantic. Rowe now teaches best practices and is changing the industries in which he works. He chronicles his inspiring story of growing up autistic and pushing beyond the restrictions of a special education classroom to shine on the stage in his forthcoming book, Fearlessly Different: An Autistic Actor's Journey to Broadway's Biggest Stage (2022).

His casting in the lead role of “Curious Incident” led to a multitude of high-profile interviews and speaking engagements. He has been featured in The New York Times, PBS, Teen Vogue, Playbill, NPR, CNN, Huffington Post and Salon, and has keynoted at organizations including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Yale School of Drama, The Gershwin Theatre on Broadway, the DAC of the South Korean government and more. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Actor With Autism Takes Center Stage | Great Big Story

Why Autistic Actors Should Be Cast In More Roles | Huffington Post

Mozart Meets the Emperor and Salieri | Amadeus

Speech Topics

Fearlessly Different

Sometimes just one small action can change a life. For Mickey Rowe, Founder and Artistic Director of National Disability Theatre, it began when he was introduced to Seattle Children’s Theatre by his grandmother. Rowe, who is autistic and legally blind, was told that he could never enter the mainstream world. Acting changed all of that. In this keynote, Rowe shares his deeply personal and inspiring story of growing up autistic and pushing beyond the restrictions of a special education classroom to shine on Broadway. The talk is based on his new memoir: Fearlessly Different: An Autistic Actor's Journey to Broadway's Biggest Stage. He shows all of us that whether disabled or not, the things that make us different are often our biggest strengths.

Integrated & Equitable Education

Right now, disabled students across America are still segregated from non-disabled students--often hidden away from the rest of the school in their own classroom in the back of the building. In this keynote, Mickey Rowe, Founder and Artistic Director of National Disability Theatre, speaks from his personal experience on how segregated education doesn't benefit anyone. He empowers educators with the best practices of Universal Design and emboldens all students to succeed regardless of their challenges.

The Power and Benefits of Diversity & Inclusion

Not only is a diverse and inclusive workplace morally right, but it is also just good business and makes the most financial sense. Right now, many companies, Microsoft included, have discovered the advantages of hiring disabled employees. As one of the leading experts on autism in our country and as an autistic person himself, Mickey Rowe, Founder and Artistic Director of National Disability Theatre, shares the undeniable business and problem-solving benefits of hiring for diversity and the power of diversity in our workplaces and our world.

An Insider’s Look at Autism

Mickey Rowe, Founder and Artistic Director of National Disability Theatre, is not only an expert in the fields of disability, Universal Design and autism but is also an autistic person himself. In this insightful talk, Rowe articulates to parents and medical professionals what autism is like from the inside and “the why” behind many previously not understood autistic behaviors in a way that few can. Rowe helps medical professionals understand the differences between the medical model of disability and the social model and how they can benefit from learning about both.

Making Change a Reality

As an autistic and legally blind person, Mickey Rowe knows what it’s like to feel different and excluded. Like a lot of other disabled students, he was segregated from the rest of the school’s population. But that didn’t stop Rowe from achieving his dreams and helping others. Rowe not only became an advocate in special education, but also an activist for industry-wide change on Broadway. He became the very first autistic actor to play the autistic character Christopher Boone in the Tony Award-winning play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” In this inspiring talk, Rowe, Founder and Artistic Director of National Disability Theatre, shares his story of advocating his way all the way to performing on Broadway's biggest stage. He’ll also will disclose the steps you need to take to advocate for yourself and others and make the changes you want to see in the world a reality.

Tenacious Pursuit of Your Goals

Mickey Rowe had to overcome so many barriers to live his dream of becoming a professional actor and director. In a time when disability was not valued, Rowe, who is autistic, carved his own path and educated others on his own value. His tenacious pursuit of his goals got him all the way from special education (autistic and legally blind) to Broadway's biggest stage. In this motivational talk, he’ll share his story and how you, too, can live your dreams. If he can do it, so can you, Rowe says.

Effective Communication in the Face of Differences

As an autistic man, Mickey Rowe has carved his own path communicating with people very different from himself professionally as a director at some of the nation's largest Tony Award-winning theaters, as a husband, romantic partner, as an award-winning author and as a father. People often compare the challenge of communicating with an autistic person to that of breaching the Mariana Trench or the Dark Side of the Moon. We all often need to communicate with people who seem very different from us. As someone who has broached the biggest communication bridges daily, Rowe shows you how.