Actress with autism gives voice to the voiceless

Rachel Barcellona has made a name for herself when it comes to what she says about autism awareness.

"I think everyone is special," she said during an interview at her Palm Harbor home, which is also her recording studio and writing workshop.

But it's what she's not saying that is the point of this story.

Her latest project is starring as "Mandy" in the film "Mandy's Voice," a film based on a Jacksonville-area girl with autism and is non-verbal.

"I had to really really tap into that inner-child that I had that couldn't talk," said Barcellona, who was non-verbal until she was five. "I am finally given this opportunity to do a story that is really close to myself even though I have a voice and some people may not, we really are not that different."

Rachel Barcellona appearing in new movie "Mandy's Voice"

Director Roxanna Lewis says about a third of the cast and crew of 25 are either on the spectrum or are advocating for those close to them.

"This is not about us trying to tell a story for somebody else," said Lewis. "This is about us trying to tell a story together."

The film will be featured in festivals in 2022, with Lewis hoping it will not be seen as a story about "the others."

It's all music to Rachel's ears. She has spoken at the UN and works with numerous organizations to rip the barriers down between those who have autism, and the rest of us.

"It does not matter what disability you have. You are capable of anything you set your mind to," she said.