News Ticker

Eighteen-Year-Old Actor with Autism Honored by Only Make Believe Charity

Autistic actor Collet Reyes becomes stage manager/mentor of “best buddies program” youth & teen partnership; final performance, May 18, 2023.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Collet Reyes receives the Clay Stefanki Award at the 2022 Only Make Believe Annual Gala at the St. James Theatre, NY (Photo credit: Alan Perlman)

(NEW YORK, NY – MAY 09, 2023) – The 18-year-old participant, Collet Reyes, of Only Make Believe children’s charity and future graduate of The Rebecca School helps both organizations continue their 13-year partnership through a series of three interactive theatre performances as part of the “Best Buddies Program.” Reyes serves as both stage manager and mentor to the children putting together performances, with a final private presentation to be held at The Rebecca School (40 East 30th Street, NY, NY 10016) on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.

Collet Reyes has been a part of the Only Make Believe charity since he was eight years old. Living with a developmental disability and being diagnosed on the Autism spectrum, Reyes has worked through these challenges to pursue his dream of becoming a professional actor. For the last ten years, Reyes was able to write, perform and learn all aspects of the theatre industry. He continues today by working with Only Make Believe actors to attend monologue workshops wherein he developed a monologue of his own to use at future auditions. He has taken professional headshots and continues to volunteer in his current role as both stage manager and mentor to children at The Rebecca School.

Last year, Reyes received a standing ovation as he accepted the 2022 Clay Stefanki Award at the Only Make Believe 23rd Annual Gala which was held at Broadway’s St. James Theatre. When asked what the award meant to him, Reyes emotionally dedicated it to his grandfather.

“It really means a lot,” Reyes said. “My grandpa was my biggest supporter, and I loved him more than anyone else in the whole world. He unfortunately died on the first day of summer school 2021, and so I’ve just been trying to be strong. And it’s really hard to live without him. Grandpa, I’m thinking about you every single day. This is for you!”

As a new milestone in this partnership, The Rebecca School and Only Make Believe provided a series of two interactive theatre performances throughout April as part of the “Best Buddies Program,” which is dedicated to creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Only Make Believe’s performances brought together youth and teens at The Rebecca School with their typically-abled peers at Hunter High School. Both groups engaged in performances together, which will culminate in a final private gathering at The Rebecca School on Thursday, May 18, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.

“Every year we look forward to our partnership with The Rebecca School to bring children together to explore their imaginations and to experience – firsthand – the magic of the theatre that they get to create and perform for an audience,” said Tamela Aldridge, Executive Artistic Director of Only Make Believe. “We are so excited to have our kids present three amazing performances. It’s truly going to be an experience that neither they nor their parents will soon forget!”

Only Make Believe celebrated a milestone this year, serving 100,000 children since its inception back in 1999. For decades, Only Make Believe has helped to enhance the lives of children who live with medically fragile conditions and developmental disabilities. Through Only Make Believe, professional actors work with these children either in-person or virtually to empower and explore their imagination, engage in critical thinking and express emotion through interactive theatre.

To learn more about Only Make Believe, please visit To schedule an interview with Collet Reyes or Tamela Aldridge, please contact Stephen Lucin via email at

Only Make Believe (OMB) creates interactive theatre with children in hospitals, special education schools, and care facilities. Inspiring joy and imagination, our professional actors engage children with medically fragile conditions and developmental disabilities, fostering social and emotional growth. OMB is dedicated to the principle that engaging a child’s imagination is a vital part of learning and developing life skills. Our programming empowers children to explore their imagination, engage in critical thinking, and discover the fun-filled experience of expressing emotions through interactive theatre.

The Rebecca School was created to address the needs of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders who were underserved in New York. Tina McCourt was chosen as Program Director, having had extensive experience with DIR®/Floortime™, attending trainings since 1994. She had a strong belief that a relationship-based approach was the best way to serve and help children diagnosed on the spectrum relate and communicate. The 45,000 square foot facility is located at 40 East 30th Street in New York City and encompasses six floors and 18 classrooms.

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.