Exclusive Interview with Kriston Lee Pumphrey

Kriston Lee Pumphrey, the Deaf performer selected as the representative of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) to sign the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful” on the grand stage at this year’s professional football finale.

Super Bowl LI is going to be huge. We are talking about Princess Bride “inconceivable” huge. During the pre-game festivities, people all over the world will see a new face when it comes to signing the National Anthem at Super Bowl LI along with Country Superstar Luke Bryan. He will be unlike any other ASL signer that has performed on a National Platform, he sees this opportunity as “a once in a lifetime experience and such a tremendous honor.” Now, we don’t know how much airtime he will be given on FOX Sports, but we know that hundreds of millions of people will be looking up on Google who he is, and, that, is what we’re here for: Kriston Lee Pumphrey is the ASL Performer who is signing the National Anthem at Super Bowl LI.

Kriston Lee
@KristonPumphrey FOLLOWS YOU
DTV News Anchor, Performing artist, Advocate, Social Justice enthusiast, Community organizer and spiritualist.

Kriston Lee Pumphrey is a performing artist who is working as a news anchor at the Deaf Professional Arts Network (DPAN-TV).  Kriston Lee graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2009 with a degree in business and communication. Kriston Lee co-founded ColorFest, a Deaf LGBT leadership conference for college students that is hosted both at Gallaudet University and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Kriston Lee is involved in various community related advocacy work and currently serves on the board for DAWN, a D.C. based nonprofit organization that strives to end sexual assault and domestic violence within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

We know that today, Kriston Lee will get his pre-game grooming services at a local deaf-owned barbershop in Woodland, Texas. Yes, Kriston Lee will be reconnecting with one of his former classmates, John-Michael Stern. John-Michael Stern, who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing, owns his own salon. In fact, we know that Kriston Lee will arrive at the salon at ten in the morning to receive MVP services before he goes on National Television to perform at Super Bowl LI.

After that, we know that Kriston Lee will take the 40 minute or so drive to rehearsal with Luke Bryan and FOX Sports to prepare for tomorrow’s pre-game performance. Kriston took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some our questions about his upcoming experience being an ASL performer at the upcoming Super Bowl LI.

Latest:



Rehearsal time!

A photo posted by Kriston Pumphrey (@kris7onlee) on


Obstacles are meant to slow your roll so you can shake hands with that little bugger, your inner spitfire.
Credit: Samip Gandhi

Serious Questions:

You will soon be performing at Super Bowl LI and our first question is are you a NFL fan? If so, who is your favorite team?

Seahawks! (He actually listed his hometown as Seattle, Washington as his hometown on his Facebook page!) 

How do you feel being on the short list of deaf celebrities that performed the National Anthem at the Super Bowl?

Alongside big names like Marlee Matlin, John Maucere, Treshelle Edmonds, and Amber Zion — it’s pretty surreal. I don’t think I can fully wrap my head around it because honestly, there’s no bigger platform than the Super Bowl that has over 100 million viewers. It is mind boggling! One thing is for sure, it is a once in a lifetime experience and such a tremendous honor.

At what point did realize that you wanted to do performance artist/actor for the rest of your life?

It was my freshman year in high school. The idea of being a performing artist has always felt natural in my family.  My dad, both my brothers, nephew, and niece are performers — and I mean they’re musicians, dancers, singers/rap artists, the whole 9. We grew up with music in the house and I remember my brother and cousins always writing lyrics and recording them onto cassette tapes, as young as 7 or 8! Dad always had both my brother and I in tow while he was directing a troupe, teaching, or working on something in different theatres in downtown Seattle. It just seemed natural.

However, it wasn’t until I attended the Washington School for the Deaf for my freshman year that I really came into my own. Up until then, I thought music was only for hearing people but at WSD, that all changed for me.  For the first time, I was in a language rich environment using ASL with my peers, adults, teachers, and mentors! The world of possibilities opened up when I understood that, I too, had a “voice” and that art can be whatever you make it to be.

What is your best performance that you’re proud of?  

Wow, this is a hard one to answer. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with so many deaf performing groups like the Wild Zappers, Rathskellar, Quest4Arts — just to name a few. The best collaborative piece is perhaps “Different Colors” with 70+ people involved that was produced by DPAN.  It was fun, engaging, and challenging to execute an ASL music video shoot in only 3 days!  

FOX 2 News interviewed Pumphrey and found out that he lives in Royal Oak, and that he is excited about the honor and “great opportunity to represent” his community.

What is your favorite career experience so far?

Working for DPAN.TV as one of the news anchors. He is quoted by Fox Detroit, “One of the reasons why DPAN-TV was established is because we feel deaf people should have access to information,” Kriston says. “People don’t realize the deaf community misses out on a lot of things going on in the world and in the news. And, to be on a national stage, this is a huge deal for us.”

If you could give a young performance artist advice based on your experiences so far, what would you recommend that he/she should do?  

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and always give your best.  Magic happens when you step outside your comfort zone and it is there that you will find joy from being pleasantly surprised over and over. Trust yourself.

Completely Silly Random Question:

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

Control time

The ten questions Lipton asks are:

  1. What is your favorite word? [Declined to comment]
  2. What is your least favorite word?  [Declined to comment]
  3. What turns you on?  [Declined to comment]
  4. What turns you off?  [Declined to comment]
  5. What sound or noise do you love? The kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? The sensation of rubbing cotton balls
  7. What is your favorite curse word?  [Declined to comment]
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Work for the US Embassy in different countries
  9. What profession would you not like to do?  [Declined to comment]
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?  [Declined to comment]

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