Tony nominated actress Lauren Ridloff is bringing authentic Deaf representation to the stage and the big screen.
“My dream was to write books. I never once thought I would end up on the stage,” she said. “When I was nine I was voted the quietest camper when I went to sleepaway camp.”
Ridloff grew up Deaf, signing with her parents, who could hear. Being the only Deaf member in her family, she was mainstreamed most of her life, meaning she went to school with children who could hear. She rarely met any other Deaf people — in fact, for a while she believed that Deaf people didn’t get older because she’d never met an older Deaf person.
Ridloff says her parents instilled a strong sense of identity in her, and eventually made the decision to send her to Washington D.C. where she fianlly met others who signed. She also experienced Deaf people with many different professions.
She says every time she works for a different television network, it’s a completely different experience for her.
“I find myself working very closely with directors, and producers, and the writers to figure out what we need to make the story work,” she said.
She believes stories of deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals on television/films right now are already familiar to everyone.
“I look forward to when we can dig deeper and explore the intersectionality of identity that a Deaf or hard-of-hearing person has — and we all have through our lives,” she said. “I mean I’m not just a Deaf person. I’m so much more.”