Jasika Nicole never thought she would be lucky enough to be cast on The Good Doctor, but she was pleasantly surprised. Her character Carly is currently involved in a blossoming romance with Dr. Shaun Murphy, who happens to have autism. Jasika is thrilled to be working on a show that is so committed to shining a spotlight on neurodiversity. She hopes that the the deepening connection between Shaun and Carly will encourage viewers to think differently about neurodivergent relationships and motivate them to invite disabled and neurodivergent people into their social circles, as well as compel them to seek out and understand disabled and neurodivergent perspectives. Season 3 of The Good Doctor is currently airing Mondays at 10pm on ABC.
Cliché: Talk about your show, The Good Doctor.
Jasika Nicole: Our show follows a group of doctors and health care professionals trying to find balance between work and life.
What initially attracted you to the show?
Honestly, my initial attraction to the show was the fact that they cast me, hahaha! When you’re an actor in between jobs and going to lots of auditions, you just hope for something to stick, and although I have turned down my fair share of auditions/jobs, I wouldn’t say I am a particularly *picky* actor. But I can say that I was really lucky to end up on a show that has so much heart and is trying its’ best to elevate the conversation around neurodiversity and what our culture considers “normal”.
The main character and your character Carly’s love interest, Dr. Shaun Murphy, has autism. How much did you know about autism prior to taking the role? Did you do a lot of research?
My sister is autistic, which I have discussed often in interviews and in my writing. I also played a neurodivergent character in Fringe.
What’s happening between Shaun and Carly in season 3? How are you hoping their relationship might progress?
Season 3 explores a slow, deliberate courtship between the two characters that I find to be incredibly romantic, even though it doesn’t follow the stereotypical pacing of what many neurotypical individuals might expect from a budding romance. I appreciate so much how slowly the writers are taking the relationship- they aren’t jumping ahead and making the audience fill in the blanks, but rather they are sharing all the obstacles and successes the couple finds themselves pushing through and celebrating. I think they are an easy couple to root for because they are both putting in the necessary work to create something unique together. They don’t always get it right, but they keep trying because it’s important to them.
Carly and Shaun’s relationship is portrayed the same way as any other romance would be. Do you think their relationship will help show viewers that people with disabilities are viable partners worthy of love?
I hope the show will help normalize neurodivergent romantic relationships, whether it’s with someone who is neurootypical like Carly or with someone else who is neurodivergent. But I want to be clear- if a viewer needs to be reminded that anyone with a disability is worthy of love, it’s going to take a lot more than a television show to unpack that kind of bigotry! The most I can hope for is that our show can be a gateway for people to have more compassion for others who have led different lives and had different experiences than what we are used to. But I think it’s really important for individuals to not let their education rest solely in the hands of a tv show- people need to diversify their social spaces! And read blogs and articles and books written by neurodivergent and disabled people! Listen when people with disabilities talk about their struggles and triumphs and learn from them!
Recently, there was a bit of friction between Carly and Shaun’s other friend Claire after Claire made a misguided attempt to micromanage his dates with Emily. In your opinion, do other characters underestimate or infantilize Shaun due to his autism and does Carly view Shaun differently?
I think the line is a little blurred with Shaun’s friends- sometimes it is an infantilization and sometimes they are just projecting their own stuff onto him without realizing it. But in this case, Shaun wanted Claire to help clear things up with Carly, so I don’t think Claire was trying to control the situation because she thought he was incapable of doing it himself, she was just trying to help him out. Shaun’s coworkers and friends respect him tremendously and want so much for him to succeed, so they try to steer him in what they think is the “right” direction in hopes of him not getting hurt or upset. And that’s incredibly relatable. But the truth is that you only get through life by actually experiencing it, and, so far, Shaun has shown he is able to handle most of the stuff that his life is throwing at him. And if he isn’t, he clearly has a whole hospital of people who will help see him through to the other side of it, haha. I personally don’t think it was wildly inappropriate for Claire to step in and try and “help”, only because lot’s of us want to help our friends out when we think they are struggling- it’s a natural reflex. The important part of that scene is that Carly set a clear boundary with Claire to let her know she and Shaun didn’t need her interfering with their relationship, and Claire seemed to both understand and respect her for it.
Shifting gears, you came out as queer at a time when it could potentially destroy your career. Why was coming out so important to you? How has your life and career changed since you went public?
This is not at all how I would describe my experience at all. I came out in my mid 20’s before I really had much of a career; you can’t “destroy” something that doesn’t exist yet. Social media wasn’t the monolith back then that it is today, so even though I was very open about my sexuality and my partner (who now identifies as non-binary) from day one, not many people knew I was queer unless they talked to me about it or knew me personally. I didn’t really connect coming out with my potential career so I wasn’t at all interested in hiding it- I just wanted to live peacefully and happily. That’s still all I want. And since I have been out for basically my whole career, I can’t say that it changed at all because I never knew anything different. I do think that being queer has affected the types of roles and opportunities I have had in my work, just the same as my blackness and my gender have, but again, this is really all I have ever known.
You’re a big proponent of intersectional feminism. What does that mean to you and how do you go about incorporating it In day-to-day life?
Intersectional feminism means that to be a true supporter of the equality of women, you must support ALL women and ALL the different experiences we have in the world. It means that “woman” is the identity that binds us, but it is not our only, or even our most important identity. It means that our experiences in the world are also marked by our skin color, our physical, mental and emotional ability, our religion, our trans-ness, our social and economic status, and our sexuality, among other things. The only way I know how to incorporate it on a day-today level is to literally just listen and learn, and not center my own experiences when someone else is sharing theirs. It takes practice, and it’s hard. It’s humbling. It requires a lot of vulnerability. But there is no progress without it.
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Jasika Nicole Romances “The Good Doctor.”