Adam Faison, star of Freeform's returning hit dramedy, "Everything's Gonna Be Okay," got candid and personal about the series, opening up ahead of the series premiere about how he hoped it would give other young people the ability to see themselves in the world.
The series follows Nicholas, a gay antipodean entomologist played by Josh Thomas, and his two half-sisters, one of whom is on the autism spectrum, as they cope with the death of their father.
Faison plays a character named Alex, who begins dating Nicholas at the beginning of the series.
"What I love about Alex is that he approaches life earnestly while trying to guide Nicholas and his sisters to do the right thing," he told "GMA." "In some ways, he feels a little like the grounding glue of this quasi family unit. He's also human, so while he does try to assume this new role, he sometimes awkwardly fumbles to try to do so, which I think is what kind of makes him funny and relatable."
Despite the realistically awkward storylines and dark humor throughout the series, Faison said he found himself at the real-life intersection of many of the plot points in the series: cancer, autism and sexual identity.
"My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer the day of our first table read," he said. "It hit me pretty hard ... I don’t think I stopped crying during that entire 15 hour-long period. And it felt like one of those bizarre instances of 'art imitating life' that you hear about in stories but that you never think will happen to you."
Faison said the script and his personal life "felt scarily close, but I did go forward with my mom’s blessing, and in a weird way the show ended up feeling like a catharsis. A catharsis in the sense that Alex had to be strong for Nicholas in the same way I had to be strong for my mom."
Faison's mom also worked with kids with autism when he was young.
"As a result, I have many friends on the spectrum, so I think for that reason this project was even more special to me," he said.
As a result, he wants the series to have a positive impact on how the autism community is seen.
"I remember at our first screening at the Autism Festival, AutFest, one my oldest childhood friends, April, whom has autism and is deaf, came with her mom Deb, and after seeing the pilot, her face was just lit up and we started signing in American Sign Language together and she told me she was so excited about the Golden Retriever autism support dog in the show because she herself has one in real life named Elsa. Her mom Deb added that although there were some parts she might not have understood, she could tell from her face that she really did pick up on so much of it. And that meant a lot to me."
Faison is also an out member of the LGBTQ+ community and says he more than relates to his series character, Alex, off-screen.
"I hope people take away from Alex a sense of love in the face of adversity ... I think what's beautiful about Alex and Nicholas is that they don't give up on each other, even when the time is weird."
"For a lot of LGBTQ+ kids like myself, it was hard for me to see myself in a traditional, committed relationship mostly because I hadn’t seen many examples of them growing up," Faison said.
When asked about what he feels has been the toughest part of creating this series and his character, Faison said it was the burden of "being the first."
"This feeling that, because we have the first leading female character with autism in TV history, that we are one of the only leading interracial gay couples in TV history, there feels like this innate sense of pressure to get it right or we fail our respective communities," he said.
He went on, "Yet, I think what people will see from this show is that we are not trying to present a blanket experience. We are not sitting in our ivory tower exclaiming, 'This is every autistic girl’s experience! This is every interracial gay couple's experience!' This is just one singular experience of some humans living their lives."
Season 2 of "Everything's Gonna Be Okay" premieres April 8th on Freeform and next day on Hulu.
Disney is the parent company of Hulu, Freeform and "Good Morning America."
Editor's note: This story was originally published on January 16, 2020