The profound effect one’s authenticity can have on the world should never be underestimated. And authenticity, a word that is often used in an effort to be so, more often than not just happens. It however seldom happens by design and almost always happens unexpectedly and in the most delightful ways.

In the case of 20 year old Ryan Lowry, a young man with autism and a whole lot of ambition, he took to LinkedIn to share a direct, authentic appeal:

“I am interested in a job in animation. I realize that someone like you will have to take a chance on me, I don’t learn like typical people do…but I learn quickly, once you explain it, I get it. I promise that if you hire me and teach me, you’ll be glad that you did.”

In this handwritten letter, Ryan is simply asking for a shot! And not the shot we are all eager to have in our arms but a shot at a life of personal, professional, and financial freedom and efficacy.

With nearly ONE MILLION people Ryan’s age on the neurodiverse spectrum entering the workforce in the next half decade, it is a truly daunting task to expect this quite capable cohort to just land the job of their dreams.

It is nearly impossible for anyone entering the job world today to land that dream job. So it requires some ingenuity, some vulnerability, and some good old fashioned “putting yourself out there.”

Ryan did just that on LinkedIn with little expectation other than the hope someone may find his appeal worth reading and in the best case scenario, worth responding to. 

Well, in the last two weeks his letter quite literally broke the internet. But back to that in a minute.

Millions of people around the world have seen his story, read his letter, and in some way shared it or responded. Nearly 200,000 reactions on LinkedIn alone and thousands of comments have promised jobs, introductions, mentorships, and everything in between. Local and national media have spread this story around the globe.

And it has been life changing.

In fact, Exceptional Minds was brought this story by one of our advisors, Aaron Parry, senior executive at post production juggernaut Company 3. He said, “Please have someone reach out to this young man!” And we did.

That’s what we do! We help provide the training and support necessary to help people like Ryan pursue and attain careers in the entertainment business. 

We had a wonderful conversation with Ryan’s family and shared all the different aspects of Exceptional Minds. How we support artists on the autism spectrum with vocational training and customized programs both part time and full time depending on the student’s needs or goals; and how our studio provides jobs to our graduates who work on projects for Disney, Netflix, WarnerMedia, Sesame Workshop, and countless others. Many graduates have gone on to careers at studios including Marvel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network.

Little did we know that a day later, CNN would be running a story on Ryan whose family gave Exceptional Minds a major shout out! How cool is that? 

Hence the internet breaking….

We received so much website traffic from the story that our site crashed sending our IT team working to get it back online! We can only imagine what Ryan’s exploding phone has been experiencing!

It is truly magical the ways in which we sometimes meet new and amazing people. You just never know where the next brilliant animator will come from or who may bring us the next Frozen or Soul. But we do hope to see Ryan in animation classes at Exceptional Minds soon so we can help him get there.

Ryan is pulling together his portfolio, weighing his options, and fielding more calls than the CEOs making those calls to Ryan and his family. The media is celebrating his authenticity and helping Ryan reach the boundless potential of his dreams.

One thing is certain. Ryan has put himself out there in ways that can serve as a lesson to us all. If you do not ask you will not get. Ryan has most certainly asked. Now it is up to all of us to open our doors, give him an opportunity to discover what’s inside, and provide him that shot, that chance he has so gracefully and yes, authentically asked us to provide. 

No doubt something quite unexpected and delightful is about to happen!


Update: Here’s the incredible conclusion to the story (that has truly just begun!):


Exceptional Minds is a professional training academy and working studio preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in digital arts and animation. 
We are a 501(3)(c) nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles. 
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To donate to our Scholarship Fund, click here. 

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