“Cha Cha Real Smooth” is the first professional acting role for Venessa Burghardt, who is autistic. Burghardt portrays Lola, the daughter of Dakota Johnson’s character Domino. Burghardt said she was drawn to the project. She felt her character avoided many of the stereotypes and clichés that often define of autism in film.
The character, Lola has been so well received by audiences, Burghardt went on to explain that the character is a fully formed person first, she is human first before an autistic person.
“When you don’t sort of label someone, the perimeter of who a person can be, they’re a lot more interesting because no one is really like that and I think it makes her seem a lot more accessible because she is not just one thing”
“Most of the auditions I get are for autistic characters and they’re usually very stereotyped, like a shell of what people think autistic people are supposed to be,” Burghardt said. “But Lola seemed like a fully formed person. And I really like that.”1
Sundance film festival standout.
“Cha Cha Real Smooth” was the feel-good standout of the Sundance Film Festival. Winning the audience award in the US Dramatic Competition category. Apple bid millions for the streaming rights, and its available now to watch on the streaming platform.
Cha Cha real Smooth, the fuss
The film was written and directed by Cooper Raiff. Surprising, Raiff also takes on one of the main roles. Portraying a college graduate who starts making money as a party starter while also striking a relationship with a young mother, portrayed by Dakota Johnson (who also produced the film). Raúl Castillo, Odeya Rush, Evan Assante, Vanessa Burghardt, Brad Garrett, and Leslie Mann also star in the feel good drama.