HBO Max’s On the Spectrum began streaming in the U.S. on World Autism Day. From yes Studios, the producers of Netflix’s Fauda, On the Spectrum is a hit Israeli series that received nine Israeli Television Academy Awards including Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Series.
The series follows three young adults with autism navigating love, careers, and friendships.
HBO Max acquired the English language rights to On the Spectrum and contracted VSI Los Angeles studios to produce a U.S. English dub for the original series. Exceptional Minds was called in to review the scripts for autism authenticity and in the process, suggested that our artists might be interested in auditioning for voice over acting roles.
We announced auditions during a weekly Exceptional Minds roundtable discussion attended by alumni, staff, and students—many of whom ended up auditioning.
While not everyone was cast, Exceptional Mind’s graduates Adam Schuering (class of 2016), Jacob Lenard (class of 2018), and Shane McKaskle (class of 2015), did the voiceovers for the show’s main characters Ron, Amit, and Shimon, and Exceptional Mind’s student Kate McSpadden (class of 2022) did the voiceovers for Rita, Shimrit and additional background voices.
On the Spectrum Voice Director Kate Jopson said they each brought “a depth of performance and understanding” to their characters. “It was this instantaneous empathy and understanding that existed and that registers in the voices,” she said of her first impressions of Shane, Adam, Jacob, and Kate. “That can speed up the dubbing process and makes my job easier,” she added.
The four auditioned and were chosen among a large casting call of professional voice actors. In addition to acting, they are also brilliant and talented animators in their own right and important artists in our expanding Exceptional Minds community.
Adam, who voiced over 7,000 lines for the show’s lead character Ron, did an extraordinary job capturing the many layers of Ron’s complex character. Since graduating from Exceptional Minds in 2016, Adam has done video editing, visual cleanup, and animated shorts as an artist for the Exceptional Minds working studio. He spent several years at Warner Bros. Animation on shows including Bunnicula, Wacky Races, Teen Titans GO!, and Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. Most recently, Adam was an Assistant Production Manager on the Scooby Doo! animated movie The Sword and the Scoob.
Shane, the voice actor for lead character Shimon, was the primary creative for Benny’s Story, an animated short created by Exceptional Minds studio for Sesame Street that was nominated for a 2016 Daytime Emmy Award.
Jacob Lenard, who is the voice for On the Spectrum’s Amit, is also a regular in our Exceptional Minds professional studio with an impressive resume, including his role as a lead project manager and animator for the Sesame Street: Story Time with Julia and Samuel/Super Fluffster project. He also has a popular YouTube channel with nearly 22 million views of his many original series.
Student Kate McSpadden, who voiced characters Rita and Shimrit as well as “walla” (background conversation) for On the Spectrum, will graduate Exceptional Minds in 2022 with On the Spectrum noted on her resume.
We are proud of these artists for taking risks and pursuing new opportunities. Who knows what new ground they will break next!
Exceptional Minds, a California non-profit of the year, is an academy and studio preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in animation, visual effects, 3D gaming, and other related fields in the entertainment industry. Exceptional Minds provides critical technical and work readiness training customized to help its students achieve their full artistic and professional potential, creating a new pipeline of talented artists, and fostering inclusive hiring practices. Exceptional Minds and its partners are building a future where neurodiverse perspectives are vital to the advancement of a more empowered and inclusive society.