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Why a Memphis comedian was determined to host a fashion show for kids with autism

“Inclusion means you get to be in a space that you deserve. It means that you get to be considered,” said LaToya Tennille, The Comedy Junt owner.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Beyond the laughs, is inclusion.

“I know what it’s like to be left out,” said LaToya Tennille, The Comedy Junt owner.

Tennille is a native Memphian and comic appearing on Comedy Central with Kevin Hart, hosting comedy summer camps, and the proud owner of The Comedy Junt.

“Being a woman in comedy is not easy. At times, you don’t get those spots or those spaces especially in comedy clubs not because you’re not funny, but because you’re a woman,” said Tennille.

She created The Comedy Junt as space of inclusion.

“It’s about giving those comics an opportunity who can’t get into comedy clubs or comics who want to start out and don’t know where to start,” said Tennille.

That desire to help others was sparked not only by her own experiences, but that of her children’s as well.

“My son is autistic. He was diagnosed in the 5th grade. Immediately, my life changed. I had to be aware of things. I had to try different methods. I also learned that the world around him is not so kind,” said Tennille.

However, the world Tennille is determined to create will be kind.

“How it looks for one person who has autism is not the same for the other one, which is why the Beautiful Spectrum was so dog-on important,” said Tennille.

The Beautiful Spectrum is a fashion show for children with autism.

“You have this autism spectrum that’s so wide in range to where it’s this end to this end,” said Tennille. “You saw child by child by child that each one was different.”

The children strutted in the categories of camouflage, dress to the nines, school days, shades of blue for autism, and their Beautiful Spectrum shirts.

“I was so proud. I felt good,” said Tennille. “I, often, feel like I’m the wrong person doing the right thing.”

Credit: The Beautiful Spectrum

On this runway, doing what is right means embracing all.

“Inclusion means you get to be in a space that you deserve. It means that you get to be considered,” said Tennille. “Pretty much is like, ‘I see you. I see you.’”

Proceeds from LaToya’s Beautiful Spectrum fashion show will all go towards Camp Able, a nationally known camp for individuals with disabilities and “diverse-abilities.”

Credit: The Beautiful Spectrum