"... 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.
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.