Deaf activist Nyle DiMarco wants more authentic roles for deaf actors.
“We in the deaf community are always thrilled to see sign language in public, because we want to make sign language more mainstream, more accepted to the general audience,” he explained. “but we also need it to be authentic — to have deaf actors who are playing deaf actors — because we internalize that deaf experience. We know it. We’ve been through the struggles, we understand our language, the nuances of our language. It’s not just acting, but being that authentic deaf person.”
As a producer for “Children of a Lesser God” on Broadway, DiMarco is using his experiences in the deaf community. He has a sentimental connection to the play, which was adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie in 1986.
The show’s lead actress, Lauren Ridloff, who is also deaf, wants people to know how important it is to realize that some groups haven’t had the same opportunities, stating, “We see so many actors play roles that aren’t real, that aren’t a part of their own life experiences. And I don’t think it would be an issue if deaf actors were employed more often. If directors, writers and producers were to work with deaf people in general, then it would become a non-issue.”