Monica Potter raises autism awareness on ‘Parenthood’ [Video]

Monica Potter readily admitted she “had no idea it would have such an impact” when she took on the role of a mother with an autistic child on “Parenthood.” So many people approach her to thank her for helping to bring this issue to light, including one fan who left her a note while she was shopping for groceries; she carries that with her always.

During the second season of this ensemble family drama, her character Kristina Braverman has been forced to confront one challenge after another. Her son (Max Burkholder) was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, her rebellious teenage daughter (Sarah Ramos) left home and, in the season finale’s double whammy, her husband (Peter Krause) lost his job and she discovered she was pregnant.

Chatting with senior editors Rob Licuria and Chris Beachum, the actress revealed she has relished the range of emotions required from her this season, although she joked that “there is a lot of crying on the show” and “hopefully next year I’ll smile a little bit more!” The series is based loosely on the 1989 film of the same name starring Steve Martin and directed by Ron Howard, who also serves as an executive producer on the show with creator and showrunner Jason Katims.

Although “Parenthood” missed out on Emmys recognition for its truncated first season, it did vie for Best New Program at last summer’s Television Critics Assn. awards (losing to “Glee”). Shows sometimes have to wait a year or two before contending for Emmys, as did “Dexter” a couple of years back and both “The Practice” and “The X-Files” in the nineties.

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