Ava Xiao-Lin Rigelhaupt (she/her/hers) is a writer, consultant, actress, public speaker, and advocate for disability and autism representation in the entertainment industry.
Rigelhaupt’s most recent work is for children’s TV. She’s a writer for Spiffy Pictures/PBS’s upcoming animated series, “Carl the Collector.” She’s written for other popular children’s shows but can’t say what yet! (All those “connect to your inner child” acting classes paid off!) Additionally, she’s the Autistic Creative Consultant on a Broadway-bound musical How to Dance in Ohio, based on Alexandra Shiva’s HBO documentary of the same name. The musical follows seven autistic young adults as they come of age, forge connections, and prepare for a spring formal dance. Its world premiere was at Syracuse Stage September 2022.
Previously, Rigelhaupt worked with the Kennedy Center on a neurodiversity training course, and had a year-long internship with the Nickelodeon Live Action Casting team. During her senior year at Sarah Lawrence College, Rigelhaupt was chosen to be a Ruderman Family Foundation Inclusion Ambassador. As an ambassador, she produced the college’s first sensory friendly theatrical performance along with organizing and moderating a panel of NYC professionals to discuss entertainment inclusion practices. (Sensory friendly performances are made accessible to people with sensory sensitivities such as those with autism or PTSD).
Rigelhaupt started with RespectAbility through their Lab, and later worked with them as an Entertainment Media Communications Fellow. As a fellow, she became immersed in the entertainment industry through consulting with studios such as Disney and Netflix on authentic onscreen portrayals of autism, disability, and diversity.
As a consultant, Rigelhaupt reviews scripts, discusses disability tropes, edits character sketches, writes casting calls, and educates studios on best practices for hiring diverse, disabled talent.
As a speaker on RespectAbility’s Jewish Speakers Bureau and Women and Nonbinary Speakers Bureau, Rigelhaupt shares her lived experiences and expertise as a Chinese, Jewish, transracial, autistic adoptee. She has given keynotes, spoken on panels, and collaborated in writers’ rooms. Rigelhaupt publishes articles and critiques regarding disability representation in media, interviews with entertainment professionals, and her own experiences as a disabled AAPI woman.
Rigelhaupt develops stories based on her life experiences, writing scripts on the road to her screenwriting career, while keeping her eyes peeled for auditioning opportunities! She’s determined to educate and influence the entertainment industry, creating more opportunities and authentic representations for the talented and diverse disability community.