Winning an Emmy was a huge surprise for Laura Ritchie.
"I have never won an award for my work, let alone winning an Emmy the first time," she said.
Ms Ritchie, who lives at Tura on the NSW Far South Coast, was the casting director for Love on the Spectrum US.
The series was based on the successful ABC reality program about young people on the autism spectrum exploring dating and relationships.
It was nominated for three of the Emmy awards the US television industry presents each year for technical and artistic merit.
The program was nominated for outstanding unstructured reality program, as well as outstanding picture editing and outstanding casting in that category. It won all three.
Ms Ritchie was the casting director and shared the Emmy with two US-based casting agents Kat Elmore and Jeffrey Marx.
Things moved very quickly.
Love on the Spectrum US aired on Netflix on May 18, 2022.
Nominations for the awards were from programs airing in the year to May 31.
"I was nominated on July 13 and won on September 4," Ms Ritchie said.
The Creative Arts Emmy Awards presentation preceded this week's 74th Primetime Emmy Awards.
Ms Ritchie only returned to her Tura home from Los Angeles on September 10.
Working during COVID
Filming for Love on the Spectrum US started in New York in June 2020.
"New York was literally turning Central Park into a morgue so I didn't go," Ms Ritchie said. "It was the worst time."
From working on the first Australian series, Ms Ritchie knew not to do pre-recordings "because people with autism are notoriously anxious".
Instead she scheduled casual conversations.
"The biggest help for me was autism support groups, anything creative like acting and musical groups.
"That was where to find people who were comfortable talking to me because they were already in creative arts."
Every day for three months Ms Ritchie woke at 3.30am to interview candidates on the US east coast for two hours. After breakfast she had calls with west coast applicants.
"I cast the US series at the same time I was producing the second Australian series so I was across both of them for over a year."
Unpaid internship for two years
Ms Ritchie dropped out of her degree at the age of 17 to take an unpaid internship in Sydney for two years.
She worked her way up from there.
In the course of her 10 years in television, Ms Ritchie has worked on a range of documentaries and kids programs, Shaun Micaleff's On the Sauce program, and Juanita: a family mystery, another documentary broadcast on the ABC.
She does the writing, casting, producing and post-production work, and sometimes also directs.
Lockdown fatigue led Ms Ritchie and her partner to move from Sydney to Tura in March and she was loving it.
"Originally I am from the Central Coast and really enjoy being this close to nature again."
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