BBC Holby City actor Jules Robertson spoke to businesses during Purple’s launch at the London Stock Exchange about improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The actor, who plays Jason Haynes, a young man with Asperger syndrome in the hospital series, encouraged businesses to ‘think outside the box and hire people who think differently’ as part of their employment strategies.
It was an honour to open the great London Stock Exchange with Purple recently.
What makes me different from other actors is that I’m autistic. Life can be hard for autistic people because we want to work, in fact we need to work, but it’s really difficult to get a job despite the fact that our brains are unique. For example, Einstein, Mozart, Warhol, Steve Jobs, we are all on the autistic spectrum. However, most of us have to live on benefits or in bedsits.
Less than 15 per cent of autistic people are in the work force, which is a much lower rate than for other disabilities.
The BBC took a bold step in casting me in ‘Holby City’. It was the first time that an autistic actor played an autistic character. In the old days, when movies depicted the Rainman, he was played by Dustin Hoffman. Today, he would be played by an autistic actor. That is an example of how my business, show business, is progressing. With the medical drama ‘Holby City’, the BBC took a risk, and it paid off. Could you take the same risk?
Autistic people have amazing talents. For example, some are very good with figures like the Rainman. They also have very high IQ’s. They would add value to your business, and a job would help them value themselves. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to be finally earning a wage. Until recently my current account reminded me of all the girls I try to chat up, but they were not showing the slightest interest. So it’s absolutely great to finally be able to tell my money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.
The team at Purple has asked me to help businesses think outside the box and hire people who think differently, and who think laterally. I encourage all recruiters and managing directors to be brave, take a gamble by employing people with disabilities. It will pay off.
In truth there is no such thing as normal and abnormal, just ordinary and extraordinary. And I think you’ll find that autistic people do have the most extraordinary minds. So why don’t you find out?