Meet Charlie: Easter Seals’ newest superstar

He’s a TV star, aspiring director, hip hop dancer…and did I mention he’s still in elementary school?!

Meet Charlie Owens, an Easter Seals client with autism who’s making television history. This summer, Charlie will charm viewers across the country as the star of an autism focused episode of Mack & Moxy, a groundbreaking television series introducing kids to cause.

Featuring some of the most prominent leads in entertainment and the brains behind the top kids programming of the decade, Mack & Moxy teaches compassion and life-long lessons of charity to our youngest generation. It’s the first time a child with autism who’s not an actor has been featured in an entertainment program of this capacity.

Charlie on set

Charlie in a director’s chair on set

So how did this two-year journey begin? Each episode of the program partners with a different nonprofit to tell a story around a particular cause. Easter Seals was carefully selected to represent disability in the show’s inaugural season. We’ve been involved in nearly every aspect of production — from scripting to filming, and even animation.

Charlie, or “Trooper Charlie,” as you’ll soon know him, was selected through a nationwide search of Easter Seals clients. The St. Louis native won us over with his dreams to be a playwright and director — dreams that came one step closer while filming Mack & Moxy.

When I first met Charlie, he was hip-hop dancing in middle of The Grove, a popular Los Angeles outdoor plaza. I thought to myself, “this is one cool kid.” On-set Charlie was a true professional—acing his lines, musical numbers and dance sequences. By the end of the shoot, Charlie was the one directing the cast and crew.

It’s easy to see why Charlie may be the coolest fifth-grader around. He’s surrounded by some pretty incredible people. Charlie’s father, Craig, is a city manager who played a pivotal role in training the city’s first responders in how to interact with people with autism in emergency situations. His mother, Elizabeth, has an infectious energy that you can see was passed down to Charlie. Charlie’s twin brother, Max, is also on the spectrum. Charlie has been a great role model for Max—encouraging Max’s social skills and language development. While Charlie may be the actor in the family, Max is the athlete. He’s a great runner and loves to go biking with his brother. Charlie’s fan club extends to his inclusive school, where he has the support of his teachers and friends of all abilities.

Charlie challenges society’s preconceived notions of what’s possible for a child with autism. Our hope is seeing Charlie in this role will create a pathway for this — proving kids with autism and other disabilities can achieve whatever they want, they just may need some help along the way. And Easter Seals is there to do just that.

Our episode of Mack & Moxy will be airing in select PBS markets across the country throughout June and July, followed by a spring home video release and a fall 2016 Netflix debut.

Leading up to the release, Easterseals.com will be your hub for all things Mack & Moxy, including the reveal of who our celebrity will be! In the meantime, get to know our celebrity, Trooper Charlie by watching this video.


 

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