Why #deaftalent means something.

Why #deaftalent means something. 

By Thomsen Young

On Jan 27, 2015, the New York Daily News published an article called, “Catalina Sandino Moreno plays deaf, mute mother in ‘Medeas’”, it was revealed that an hearing actress would be playing the role of a deaf, mute mother. Now, three days later, people are going to social media to voice their displeasure that a hearing actress was selected for that role when they believe that role should have been cast to someone who is already deaf.

See below what people are saying all over the Internet:

#deaftalent Tweets

As you can see, majority of the postings on Twitter is not overwhelming positive with the selection of a hearing actress playing a deaf, mute mother. In fact, the Deaf Community as a whole has been showing frustration with Hollywood for a long time. Yes, progress has been made in incorporating more deaf actors and actress into shows, movies and film, however, that progress has had many roadblocks in the last thirty years. Hollywood has too many times taken advantage of the Deaf Community by using hearing actors and actress to play deaf roles; however, Hollywood is also showing some signs of turning their bad habit around. Lydia Callis points out some powerful examples of deaf/hard of hearing characters in Hollywood,

“Deaf actors like Vanessa Marano, Katie Leclerc and Sean Berdy, who play lead roles in Switched at Birth; and Shoshonnah Stern, who had recurring roles on Fox’s Lie To Me and Showtime’s Weeds, are getting the prominent parts they deserve. Audiences are finally getting a taste of sign language communication and casting diversity. Even reality TV is starting to feature deaf individuals, for example: Project Runway contestant Justin LeBlanc; Luke Adams, who teamed up with his hearing mother to compete in several seasons of the Amazing Race; and deaf Chopped contender Kurt “The Irish Chef” Ramborger. “

Yet, even today, when people read in the New York Daily News about a hearing actress getting a role that should of been for a deaf actress, we get to that point again when we say, “Haven’t we learned anything?”.

That’s where #deaftalent comes in. And that’s when #deaftalent means something.

It means that we need to stand up for the Deaf Community especially those who have worked hard making a name for themselves in Hollywood. What’s even more important is that it’s about the Big Picture. It’s about the Deaf Community being represented whole-heartily as who they are. It’s about showing kids who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing that they can be successful and they can follow their dreams if they too one day want to become an actor or actress. It’s about showing employers that deaf people can be hired and be very, very good at what they do. It’s also what it means to embodied the spirit of what Deaf Culture has been trying to do for a very, long time: breaking through.

That’s why #deaftalent means something. It means that we still have, we still are and we still will continue to struggle to breakthrough oppressive barriers of hearing people perceptions that we are still limited by our “disabilities”. But our perceptions of ourselves will never change. #deaftalent means that we will always continue to fight our rights to have equal opportunities just like everyone else to show that we can be successful and we can be very, very, very good at our jobs.

#deaftalent shows that a YouTuber such as Rikki Poynter can make a difference with her #withcaptions campaign.

#deaftalent shows that Jules Dameron, a highly talented director, can get permission from Disney to create an “Let It Go” in ASL and get over 90,000 views in five days!

#deaftalent shows that Treshelle Edmond, an actress and model, will be representing the Deaf Community at tomorrow Super Bowl and sign the National Anthem and America is Beautiful in front of millions of television viewers.

#deaftalent means something. Spread the word.

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