Meet the Deaf Lead Actress of the Facebook Watch Horror Show 'Kinderfänger'
If you are looking for your next horror fix, Crypt TV’s “Kinderfänger” might be right up your alley. “Kinderfänger” follows the character Olivia, a Deaf teacher played by Deaf actress Angel Theory, who starts investigating the disappearances of her missing students. The first episode of “Kinderfänger” premiered on Oct. 30.
“The Walking Dead” fans may recognize Theory from her role as Kelly on the series, a hard-of-hearing character. Theory talked to The Mighty about her new role as the lead character in “Kinderfänger,” the importance of authentically casting Deaf and hard-of-hearing characters, and how her own experience shaped her character. A recording of the full interview is below.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity
What can be people expect when they watch “Kinderfänger”?
They can expect a lot of emotions. It’s a lot of sadness. Little moments of happiness. All around you feel bad for this one character, Olivia. I feel like they should expect to have moments of just being scared throughout and curiosity.
How did your personal experience being hard of hearing/Deaf help inspire your role of Olivia?
I was able to give the directors, the writers [and] the whole production my input of what happens in my normal life. People sometimes think that we have different ways of doing things because that’s what they expect. I was basically just trying to make everything feel real for the viewers, especially for the hard of hearing and Deaf communities.
As an executive producer for “Kinderfänger,” what role did you play in making sure that Olivia is an authentic Deaf character?
How she communicates with other people, what her life is like, without hearing aids and with them as well. Just being able to show that hard of hearing and Deaf people have different stories, different [kinds] of hearing loss and Deafness and how that incorporates into their everyday lives.
How does this show highlight the importance of casting Deaf and hard of hearing actors to play these characters?
It’s very important that casting remembers that hiring hard of hearing and Deaf people to play these roles is something that we actually need as a community. It’s not saying that a hearing person can’t play a Deaf role. It’s the fact that they don’t know what being hard of hearing and Deaf is actually like. Casting directors are starting to be more open to realizing that we need [Deaf and hard of hearing] actors to play these characters so it’s 100% authentic and relatable as well.
What are some helpful ways that shows or movies can support Deaf and hard-of-hearing actors after they’ve been cast?
One of the biggest things that helps me a lot while working is being allowed to give my input. When productions allow me to say like “Hey, I’m not comfortable with my hearing aids in this position” or “The atmosphere is bothersome for me to not be able to pay attention or focus,” they can navigate around that. I’m always making sure that my interpreter is with me, and they understand her job is just as important as well.
Were there any Deaf or hard-of-hearing actors you looked up to when you’re younger or even now?
Growing up, I would so no. Even before getting on “The Walking Dead,” I realized that I needed a community, so I would search some people up. I had only seen certain people like Marlee Matlin. Nyle DiMarco too because I was a huge fan of “America’s Next Top Model,” and I was rooting for him the whole time, and he won. A whole bunch of other amazing and talented actors DJs, [and] dancers that are in the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community opened up my eyes personally to realize that hard of hearing people [can] do everything I would never know that.
I think that highlights the importance of your role as an executive producer on “Kinderfänger,” because it’s important to not only have people in front of the camera but behind the camera making certain decisions.
We were able to take a moment and step back and say, “This is written really beautifully. However, Olivia wouldn’t do this. If this was the real world, this wouldn’t happen.” Once I’d tell them that they’d say, “Oh, so what would you do?” I’d respond, “Maybe she would do this instead, instead of touching this wall to feel the vibration. She wouldn’t feel it here, she would feel it better over here.” Little things like that. They were very understanding.
What has been your overall experience been like in the entertainment industry as a Deaf/hard-of-hearing person and a person of color?
So far, I have no complaints. Everything is so fast-paced. People talk to you fast. It’s sometimes hard to breathe, and it can even be overwhelming. When I’m in the room, I think my presence sometimes being there allows people to realize, like, “Maybe we slow down, like let’s talk slower. Let’s take a minute to breathe.” From what I’ve experienced so far, it’s been a beautiful experience.
What advice do you have for hard-of-hearing or Deaf people who want to pursue acting or a career behind-the-scenes?
I would say to follow your dreams and don’t allow people to put you in a box. You have got to accept yourself first and surround yourself with people that love you for who you are and that want to see you win in life and be successful. Just follow your dreams. There’s nothing that can stop you.
Watch episodes of “Kinderfänger” on Facebook here. New episodes are posted every Friday at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET. Watch the full interview below with Theory’s ASL interpreter.
Image Courtesy of Crypt TV