10 Reasons Brigette Lundy-Paine Is the Inspirational Icon You Need Right Now

So this isn't news to anyone, but Brigette Lundy-Paine is cool as hell. The 25-year-old actor first came on the scene when they played Maureen Walls in 2017's The Glass Castle, and now they're stealing the spotlight as Sam Gardner's youngest sister Casey on Netflix's Atypical. Season three of the dramedy provides some major changes for Sam as he begins his first semester of college, but it provides even bigger changes for Casey, who finally examines those confusing feelings she has for her friend Izzie. Both onscreen and off, Brigette is an outspoken queer icon we want more of in our lives, and here are just a few reasons why they deserve your undivided attention.


They Don't Shy Away From Difficult Topics

Brigette believes that, in the age of President Trump, the media should spend less time focusing on trivialities and more time on issues that matter. "I think we have realized that we can't just sit around and entertain ourselves with stupid stuff anymore," they told Who What Wear in a September 2018 interview. "We have to start talking about things. There is something deep that I feel has unlocked in the human consciousness in the last year, especially the American consciousness. We can't get further from it now; we only have to get closer to it through truth and community."


They Love Spending Time and Learning From Those With Autism

As one of the few shows featuring characters with autism, Brigette realizes the responsibility Atypical has to provide accurate representation, and they and their cast members take the time to meet with and learn from the autistic community. "We were able to go to the Autism Film Festival about six months ago — there was a panel — and then afterwards we just got to chill and talk with all these filmmakers with autism," they explained to Vulture in September 2018. "It's such a supportive and beautiful community. I hope we're able to do them justice."

They're Passionate About Reducing Their Carbon Footprint
Getty | Jean Baptiste Lacroix

They're Passionate About Reducing Their Carbon Footprint

Brigette believes in conservation as much as representation, and as a member of the National Resource Defense Council, they take small (but important) steps every day to reduce her footprint. "I like to live as low waste as possible," they told Who What Wear. "It's as simple as bringing your own coffee cup to the coffee shops, making food at home when possible, bringing your bags to the grocery store — really simple things."


They Encourage Women to Believe in Their Strength

Nobody puts Brigette in a corner, and they hope to inspire women to stand for what they believe in. "As a young woman in this business, I have a vision of what I want to be doing, and how I want to be seen," they explained to Dazed in a June 2018 interview. "It took me some time to convince the people around me that there was a different way of doing things. At the end of the day, you have to follow your dream. And especially for young women: stand your ground, and use your voice. People will listen."


They Don't Like to Assign Labels to Their Sexuality

Like autism, Brigette sees sexuality as a spectrum, and they refuse to be pigeonholed by any labels. "Those things, they don't matter. They don't exist," she said in a November 2019 interview with TV Guide. "Those are all just ways to box us in. There's no such thing as being straight, in my opinion. Like being gay, everything is a spectrum." Later, they added, "It's all about phases, too. What are you feeling right now? That's what you're feeling. And if you're feeling something later, then that's what you're feeling too." They concluded with, "Just go for it. Love yourself so dearly. Take care of yourself."

They Fight For More Nuanced Examples of Queerness
Getty | Chelsea Guglielmino

They Fight For More Nuanced Examples of Queerness

Brigette knows there's no "right" way to come out, but the way that coming out is portrayed on TV is often not an accurate reflection of a queer person's coming-out experience. With Atypical's Casey, Brigette loves having the opportunity to provide a different sort of story. "I'm queer, and I feel that for a lot of queer youth, there's not a lot of nuanced examples of queerness on TV when it comes to teenagers," they explained to Vulture. "A lot of the time, someone will come out as gay and it's about the coming-out story and then they're gay. We have such an opportunity with Casey to be really gentle with that story and to give the characters a chance to figure it out and flail."


They Work to Make Queer Culture Mainstream Both on and Off Screen

Atypical is working to make autism awareness mainstream, and for Brigette, season three has allowed the show to make queer culture more mainstream as well — while also avoiding clichés and the pitfalls of stereotyping. "It's really so, so, so important for me that queer culture be accepted mainstream and that queer stories be told with more vigor and less fetishizing," they stressed to Who What Wear. "I think we are close, but sometimes it takes just being yourself. I know there are so many people right now who are just really paving the way and becoming mainstream."

They're Never Afraid to Subvert Expectations
Getty | Jon Kopaloff

They're Never Afraid to Subvert Expectations

As a young person in Hollywood, Brigette knows what sort of roles people expect them to play and how people expect them to dress and act — but they don't care about Hollywood's rules. "What I find so special about acting — especially being female in this world, and growing up with such intense standards of how you should be — is that you can break those rigid models," they told Dazed. "I love playing an old witch or a young boy. When I was younger, I would always volunteer to play the male lead. I realized, at a young age, there's something special about breaking expectations."


They Challenge the Constraints of Traditional Femininity

For Brigette, it's not enough to question the limitations of femininity — they suggest that it's time to expand its definition. "I'm feeling in the earth a massive shift, in especially female consciousness, that is . . . slightly different than feminism," they explained to Advocate in September 2018. "It feels like this mass reexamination of the stories we're being told. I think it's really exciting that so many of these stories are slowly but surely taking a different angle. I just feel lucky to be part of that wave."

They Refuse to Compromise Her Identity For Hollywood
Getty | Steven Ferdman

They Refuse to Compromise Her Identity For Hollywood

Something that Brigette values above all else: never losing their sense of self. "I've yet to be put in a skimpy dress and asked to stand pretty," she told Interview in April 2018. "I hope I never will."