"... powerfully renders what it’s like to live life to the fullest." Publishers Weekly Starred Review
My name is Mickey Rowe. I am an actor, a theatre director, a father, and a husband. I am also a man with autism. You think those things don’t go together? Let me show you that they do.
Growing up, Mickey Rowe was told that he couldn’t enter the mainstream world. He was iced out by classmates and colleagues, infantilized by well-meaning theatre directors, barred from even earning a minimum wage. Why? Because he is autistic.
Fearlessly Different: An Autistic Actor's Journey to Broadway's Biggest Stage is Mickey Rowe’s story of growing up autistic and pushing beyond the restrictions of a special education classroom to shine on the stage. 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 the many things he was apparently incapable of doing. But Mickey did them all anyway—and he succeeded because of, not in spite of, his autism. He became the first autistic actor to play the lead role in the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, landed the title role in the play Amadeus, co-created the theatre/philanthropy company Arts on the Waterfront, and founded the National Disability Theatre. Mickey faced untold obstacles along the way, but his story ends in triumph.
Many people feel they are locked out of the world of autism—that it’s impossible to even begin to understand. In Fearlessly Different, Mickey guides readers to that world while also helping those with autism to feel seen and understood. And he shows all people—autistic and non-autistic alike—that the things that make us different are often our biggest strengths.
Mickey Rowe (he/him) has had a prolific and varied career as an actor, director, and public speaker. Mickey was 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, which also made him the first autistic actor to ever play any autistic character in a professional performance setting. He has directed at Tony Award–winning theatres, appeared as the title role in the Tony Award–winning play Amadeus, and more. Rowe has keynoted at venues including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Disability Rights Washington, Yale, and The Gershwin Theatre on Broadway. He is the founding 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. Mickey lives in Seattle, WA.
About the Author
In this immensely inspiring debut, Rowe recounts how he achieved his acting dreams “because of and not in spite of my autism.” He writes of his difficult childhood, having grown up with a neglectful mother, younger brothers who bullied him, and a school system that failed to make accommodations for his disability.... In addition to relaying his incredible story of persistence, Rowe shares the challenges he faced raising his autistic son, celebrates the joys of finding love (“nonautistics should be jealous they don’t get to experience sex as an autistic person”), and launches a searing indictment of the horrific ways society casts aside those with disabilities: “at least one disabled person is killed per week by their parent or caregiver.” The result powerfully renders what it’s like to live life to the fullest.
Rowe, who is autistic and legally blind, shares the difficulty he encountered growing up. Rejected by his mother, he was shunned by classmates and constantly reminded of what he couldn’t do. Sent to live with his grandparents in Seattle, he was introduced to the Seattle Children’s Theatre, where he found his calling. Still, becoming an actor seemed out of reach. However, as this memoir shows, Rowe was fearless. By pushing against his supposed limitations, he not only became an actor (he landed the lead role in the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the first time an autistic actor played an autistic character), he became a husband, a father, a theater director, and founder of the National Disability Theater. As he makes clear, it was a long and difficult road, but he was undeterred. He adopted the mantra that differences are strengths, and the book ends with a call to action for readers to be brave, to live with compassion and empathy, and to embrace their differences. A powerful book that will appeal to fans of stirring and inspiring memoirs.
Mickey Rowe delivers a fierce and vivacious performance of this audiobook about his arduous and triumphant journey to becoming an actor with autism. Rowe details the tribulations faced by people with disabilities as they navigate a world that marginalizes them and bars them from opportunities able-bodied people take for granted. His talent as an actor makes for a dramatic audiobook full of wit and charm. He shares moments of humor in some sections, and is boldly authentic in more somber segments. A powerful and important story with something for everyone.
Mickey is the definition of a “trailblazer,” and blazes with such grace and effervescence; through the highs of success and rollercoaster of life he remains grounded and relatable. This book is personal, charming, important, and touching. No matter one’s lived experience, it is incredibly pertinent.
Mickey Rowe’s Fearlessly Different is fascinating, educating, elucidating, and sometimes enraging. It is inspirational and eye-opening. It is insightful and, hopefully, inciting—a call for action, for necessary and overdue change, for a vital, urgent reframing and rethinking of disability. But mostly, Fearlessly Different is a very good story—several of them, in fact—of resilience and courage and the strength and power of being two things: different and who you are.
Mickey overcomes so much to set such an amazing example of what is possible for all of us who struggle to overcome barriers and obstacles. His story will have a powerful impact on all of us in raising our belief and confidence to go after our dreams. Thank you, Mickey.
Mickey Rowe is a living example of overcoming adversity as an activist and leader for change. Fearlessly Different sends you on an immersive journey of one's own courage, determination, strength, and self-awareness.
Mickey Rowe is a gracious, wise, and yes, fearless guide as he enables us to experience the world as he does and more importantly, helps us to envision new possibilities. Mickey is not just an accomplished actor who can command a stage, he’s a thinker who can expand our understanding of “difference” and “normal.” He’s also a generous writer with a distinctive voice and the skill to make Fearlessly Different a deeply personal reading experience—like a good conversation with a smart and kind friend who has a lot to share.
Fearlessly Different is a powerful story about succeeding because of—rather than despite—one’s disability. Rowe paints an authentic picture of navigating our oftentimes ableist and inaccessible world with determination, humor, and love. His story is vital.
As a Paralympic athlete and professional speaker, a large part of my message is helping the world realize that our differences unlock doors that lead to abundant opportunities and success. Mickey Rowe’s Fearlessly Different proves my point exactly.
His book offers an unusual and therefore valuable perspective, demonstrating that, as Rowe writes, "autistic people can speak for themselves and tell their own stories."
Mickey Rowe’s story is so inspiring and the way he uses his voice to highlight the Disability Community is so incredibly powerful. The second I started reading, I was immediately captured by the story of Mickey fighting to show that his differences are his strengths.Mickey’s kindness, strength, and determination are something I think we all aspire to, and as someone who has dealt with years of aphasia, time in a wheelchair, and severe ADHD, I found myself in tears over and over again as I read his story of perseverance and positivity. Mickey is truly an example to us all to keep fighting and to use our differences to make the world a better place.
Rowe offers several books in one: his own professional biography; his personal struggles with troubled relationships, including raising an autistic son as a single parent; a self-help manual for “different” performers; and a chronicle of his offstage public activism. Rowe writes with charm, quicksilver humor, and fierce conviction. He shows the way, and it shines a light for the rest of us.
Please read Fearlessly Different, a story about a disabled artist who changed the world. Those changes created opportunities for countless other disabled people. It is only the opportunity he offers. You must take the first step. Read this book. It can change your whole outlook on this terrible beautiful world. It has mine.
12/3/21, Publishers Weekly: The title was included in this "Adult Books for Spring 2022" feature.
1/29/22, Broadway World: This book was featured in a roundup of new titles for theatre lovers.
2/8/22, Paternal Podcast: Mickey Rowe talked about his life on the spectrum, fatherhood, and the book in this podcast episode.
3/3/22, Parent Footprint Podcast: Mickey Rowe was interviewed about the book by Dr. Dan Peters.
3/11/22, Publisher's Weekly: This book was featured in this "Books of the Week" roundup.
3/10/22, KING 5-TV Seattle: Mickey Rowe was interviewed about his background and the release of the book.
3/16/22, Airplane Mode with Liz Plank: An excerpt from the book ran in Liz Plank’s popular newsletter.
3/29/22, KUOW NPR Seattle: A 22-minute segment was devoted to Mickey Rowe and the book.
4/8/22, Seattle Times: This book was featured in a roundup of new audiobooks and called “a gift to be cherished."
4/9/22, Broadway World: This book was included in a roundup of theater books.
4/6/22, Lin-Manuel Miranda on Twitter: Mickey Rowe's book was featured as one of the staff picks for April at Lin-Manuel's Drama Book Shop.
4/21/22, Stephanie Hockersmith (Pie Lady Books on Instagram): Mickey Rowe's book was featured on this popular Instagram page with a matching pie.
4/24/22, Weekend TODAY Show on NBC: Mickey Rowe was interviewed about his acting journey and how he turned his hardships and triumphs into a book.
4/27/22, LitHub: Mickey Rowe’s book was featured as one of “AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of April.”
4/28/22, Observer: In this feature article, Mickey Rowe was interviewed about his experiences as an actor.
11/7/22, A Mighty Blaze Podcast: Mickey Rowe talked about his memoir with Jane Roper.