Were you comfortable asking for what you needed?
I was convinced that I had to show how easy it is to work as a deaf person. I was worried about sounding too fragile. But after working with others, I realized that everyone has their own unique challenges, and I need to think about what I need to give as an actor, and not apologize for that. .
What should Hollywood do to include deaf actors?
Hollywood is finally figuring out why having representation is so important, and now it’s more on how. This is the part that is more difficult. We need to involve deaf writers and creative talent in the process of planning film projects from the outset. When you have deaf experts within and on stage, from crew to makeup artists, it seems like there’s naturally more authentic representation on screen.
What for the deaf audience?
Hollywood needs to lead those cute little interviews with subtitled commercials, trailers and clips that celebrities promote their movies. Another thing I’d like to see improved is the nuances of audio detail. It’s not enough to see “music is playing” in a scene – what kind of music is that? Happy? Horrible?
Are most movie theaters available to people who are deaf?
No! We in cinemas are an ideology, and this needs to change. You have to use a special closed-captioning device to watch subtitling in the theater, and it’s a headache, as most of the time the devices don’t work. Then you have to go back to the front desk and find someone to help, and by the time they find out that it’s not working – that it’s not going to be subtitled at all – half of the movie is done. Then you find out, “Okay, how am I going to give you a free ticket to the next movie?” And I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” This doesn’t fix the problem.
Do you feel pressure to pave the way for deaf actors in the future?
I won’t lie, I feel pressure and stress sometimes, and it can be a burden. I have to remember that it’s not my job to inspire others or be a model – but I have the ability to make those connections.
What do you hope people will take from this film?
Growing up, I never dreamed of becoming an actor. I didn’t see myself on screen. As a little girl, I thought I was one of the very few deaf people to walk this earth. Now, as an adult, I know that at least 466 million deaf and hard of hearing people. I’m not the only one. And that’s what it means to be a deaf superhero – a lot more people will likely see a lot more.