Kayla Cromer Opens Up About Breaking Boundaries on TV: 'Autism Doesn't Define Me'
"I hope to open more doors for people within the disability community," says Everything's Gonna Be Okay actress Kayla Cromer
Kayla Cromer has her eye on the future — and it's action-packed.
"Doing a Marvel movie would be my absolute dream," says the star of Everything's Gonna Be Okay, 23. "That's why I train so hard at the gym! But the biggest thing for me is proving that I can book different roles. I want to get rid of the stigmas in Hollywood."
On the hit Freeform series — now airing season 2 — Cromer, who is on the autism spectrum, plays Matilda, a character who also has autism, becoming the first actress to achieve that milestone.
"I didn't see characters like me on TV growing up," says Cromer. "I would have been really happy to see it more."
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And despite her current success, the actress, who was diagnosed with ADD, dyscalculia (a learning disability that affects number-related concepts) and dyslexia at age 7, followed by Asperger's a few years later, says she's dealt with plenty of misconceptions and judgments in her life.
"I felt like an outsider," Cromer recalls of her childhood. "I was always the last to finish in class. And I wanted so badly to fit into social circles at school, but friends and parties were few. I won't say the word, but I've also been called R-E-T-A-R-D. People are still viewed by labels."
Cromer later switched to a specialized school where she flourished — and eventually, fell in love with acting.
"I watched Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean and I became hooked," she recalls. "They're both dyslexic and they've never let their disabilities stop them. That just wowed me."
Cromer herself isn't showing any signs of slowing down.
"There are still so many stories that need to be told in Hollywood," she says. "The face of the world is ever changing and the industry needs to keep up."
Continues the actress: "Autism doesn't define me. I want to be a part of different genres in film and bring light to different characters. I hope to open more doors for people in the disability community. And I'm so excited for what the future has in store."
Everything's Gonna Be Okay airs Thursdays (10 p.m. ET) on Freeform.
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