#Deaftalent, Avenged & Twitter

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Written by Thomsen Young and you can follow him @
Since January 31, 2015, #Deaftalent is still trending on Twitter. #Deaftalent has been trending for 49 days! This is an amazing feat, but it is still not over. What we really need to see is Hollywood doing something about it. Since we wrote about our thoughts about #Deaftalent, there is still much needed attention that needs to be brought to Hollywood attention.

Jules Dameron, a well-known film director who is deaf, quoted on Twitter:

If Hollywood was simply aware of the #deaftalent movement, think how many more jobs deaf actors would have now. Like, a lot.
— Jules Dameron (@julesdameron) March 19, 2015

The struggles for jobs for people who are deaf/hard of hearing is quite difficult. Now imagine trying to get a job in one of the most competitive fields in the movie business: Hollywood.

We’re not saying that we want to make it easier for deaf people to get acting jobs; we’re saying that they need to be given the same opportunity as everyone else. A chance to show that they are the best of the best.

Rikki Poynter, a rising star on YouTube.com, advocated for this as well. On February 3rd, 2015, she posted a video called, Hollywood, Stop Hiring Hearing Actors For Deaf Roles! #DEAFTALENT In that video, now with over 4,000 views, she talks about how there is #deaftalent in Hollywood. We decided to follow up with her and we were surprise to learn that a new controversy is brewing on Twitter again. 

[TSG] Lately, a new controversy, Avenged, has been a serious dialogue on Twitter. Can you summarize for us what this controversy is about?

[Rikki] Oh, the usual stuff.  A hearing director/filmmaker has a Deaf character and instead of considering and/or hiring a Deaf actress, he goes to hire a hearing actress without really considering a Deaf actress for the role.

@AmberZion @catchrosa No. We did not. However, I saw your reel and admit I wish we’d given you a shot at auditioning. Great work.
— Michael Ojeda (@MichaelOjeda2) March 13, 2015

[TSG] What are your personal thoughts about it?

[Rikki] The thing I had major beef with is the excuse Michael had about not having a Deaf person play the role. Something about how the Deaf actress will not be able to hear spoken cues when fighting and the actress might get hurt. Well, hearing actors and actresses already get hurt on set, so… what? And Brian Danner has worked with multiple Deaf actors and actresses during fight scenes so I’m not really getting the issue here. We are perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves. 

From what I’ve read, Michael did not even consider other possibilities, other ways of trying to communicate with a Deaf person. The whole thing has just been another round of “deaf people can’t do this, can’t do that” and it’s annoying. It’s one thing to open a casting call (or audition or… whatever you call it) for both Deaf and hearing actresses and then think, “Well, this hearing person did the best for this character,” but it’s another thing when you don’t consider Deaf actors and actresses at all, which is what happened here. Many Deaf actresses didn’t even know about this film years ago!

This is why I always strive for collaboration. Our community needs allies, people like Brian Danner. “@julesdameron: pic.twitter.com/pwfUlM7zSt
— Shoshannah Stern (@Shoshannah7) March 14, 2015

[TSG] How do you think people should be reacting?

[Rikki] The same way the Deaf community has been acting. We need to continue to make it know that Deaf actors and actresses need to be considered for Deaf roles. After all, we know Deaf best.

[TSG] We noticed that Shoshannah Stern did an interview with DHN about Avenged and we were wondering what you thought of that interview?

[Rikki] Oh, I have nothing but positive things to say about Shoshannah and that interview. I liked it. I loved it. Give me more.