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My name is Sandra Mae Frank and I hail from Louisville, KY – born and raised. Graduated from Kentucky School for the Deaf, I went straight to Gallaudet afterward to major in teaching and minor in theatre but the more involved I got with theatre, the more it became my major rather than my minor so, thus I graduated from Gallaudet University with BA in Theatre Arts: Performance and Production and here I am, pursuing my career as a Professional Deaf Actress on the stage and film.
More info about me on my website, www.sandramaefrank.weebly.com
At what point did you realize that you wanted to do performance artist for the rest of your life?
To be honest, I’ve always loved acting with my friends, making fun videos with my 90’s “kid-camera” and playing ASL games my whole life. I just didn’t realize it would become my career, my life. I love being able to become someone else completely and understand their life, their world and tell their story to the world through my performance. My career as a professional Deaf actress, it’s always something new, something exciting and never been touched before, it’s an adventure every time and I discover something new about myself. I do this for passion and I am great at it. Above all, I’ve met and chatted with patrons from my shows and hearing their comments about my performance and how it has touched them in a special way, triggered their memories/experiences… it’s amazing and inspiring.
What is your best performance that you’re proud of? Why?
I’ve done so many productions that I am proud of but I am going with Deaf West’s Spring Awakening as Wendla because I have that strong connection with Wendla Bergman and her story has really inspired me. Also it’s my first musical and I am amazed with how hard I’ve worked for this role and to make it work, especially with the fact that I cannot hear at all, I still love music and feel the beats in the songs I sign. Wendla also pulled me out of my comfort zone in Washington, DC and brought me in Los Angeles, where the city is always alive. I am proud to be still doing Deaf West’s Spring Awakening at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills! It is very rare for a production to be remounted with the same cast.
What is your favorite modeling experience so far?
I’ve never really done any modeling work, but I would like to give it a try and see what I can create with my acting experiences to modeling.
If you could give a young performance artist advice based on your experiences so far, what would you recommend that he/she should do?
I would tell them this: “Always believe in your passion and show them what you’ve got. Know this: you will fall, you will get frustrated and you will have moments when nothing seems to be working, don’t give up. Keep finding new ways to get out there and grab every opportunity you see, even if it’s small. Prove them wrong. Be confident and keep refreshing your skills, keep signing up for acting classes and learn from people you meet. I believe you truly grow stronger by supporting and working with other deaf artists to create beautiful things together.”
What is your future plans?
I plan on going back to school for MFA in Theatre but in a meantime, I am committed to my role, Wendla in Deaf West’s Spring Awakening and see how far we will go. I want to travel the world for acting works starting with my first international production this Fall and inspire young deaf actresses/actors… push them beyond their limitations and aim for the stars in the galaxy. I hope for #deaftalent to always be everlasting throughout generations of deaf artists.
Since #deaftalent is still trending all over the Internet right now, do you have any thoughts on what #deaftalent means to you?
I think it’s incredible and very powerful, it has brought the community together, stronger than ever through this hash tag. One single hash tag has formed a strong community of deaf talents all over the world. I am proud to be part of it and finding ways to break barriers between both worlds. “Just because it says it’s not a deaf role doesn’t mean you can’t audition, show up and give them a reason why they should rewrite the character for you.”
Completely Silly Random Questions:
If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?
I would have to say… Female version of Legolas from Lord of the Ring!
If you had only six months left to live, what would you do with the time?
Carpe Diem, I’d do everything I can in 6 months and sky diving would be the first thing I’d sign up to do.
You have the choice to live with a gorilla that knows sign language or a dog who sings lullabies, which do you choose?
Ever since I saw a video of Robin Williams chatting with Koko the gorilla that knows ASL, I was astonished! Understanding a mind of an animal and it brings a new perspective on life. Beside, who doesn’t like a decent conversation with a gorilla that knows sign language?!
If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
Fierce Catwoman, of course! To have all of the cat-like abilities and save the world? Not a problem 😉
If you were a Star Trek® [or Star Wars® ] character, which one would it be?
Princess Leia, I love how the character transformed!
My favorite part: The questionnaire concept was originated by French television personality Bernard Pivot on his show Apostrophes, after the Proust Questionnaire.
The ten questions Lipton asks are:
1. What is your favorite word?
Carpe Diem (Seize the day!)
2. What is your least favorite word?
3. What turns you on?
ASL accents – the style of each person’s way of signing always fantasizes me!
4. What turns you off?
How people underestimate the profession of acting and lack of manners
5. What sound or noise do you love?
In this case, it would be based on the vibration but I love the “holding note” part in a song where people would sing and hold a note for a long time, it’s so beautiful and seductive.
6. What sound or noise do you hate?
I would have to go with train… since I live close to a train, I always can feel it coming and going, it feels like something huge has happen but no, it’s just a train and that drives me crazy sometimes!
7. What is your favorite curse word?
Declined to comment.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
9. What profession would you not like to do?
Monday to Friday from 8AM to 5PM type of job, it’s not my thing. I like having a flexible schedule with acting and filming, including weekends and traveling.
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Declined to comment.
Follow Sandra Mae Frank on:
IG – sandy21mae
Twitter – sandy21mae
Facebook Page – www.facebook.com/sandramaefrank
Sandra’s Website – www.sandramaefrank.weebly.com
If you missed Deaf West’s Spring Awakening last fall, worry not because we will be picking it up again this Spring from May 21st until June 7th at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, go to this link to purchase tickets! (Even if you’ve already seen it but would love to see it again!)
Founder of TSG