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Deaf Actor Helped Create Tusken Sign Language in 'The Mandalorian'

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While Baby Yoda captured the internet’s attention when the first season of “The Mandalorian” came out last year for his cuteness, he also used sign language to communicate with a Tusken Raider, played by Deaf actor Troy Kotsur.

A recent viral tweet drew attention to the fact that “The Mandalorian” hired Kotsur not only to play the Raider, but to help create Tusken Sign Language. Kotsur discussed creating Tusken Sign Language and being a Deaf actor in an interview with the Daily Moth in January.

My goal was to avoid ASL. I made sure it became Tusken Sign Language based on their culture and environment. — Troy Kotsur, Daily Moth

The Frontlines: Around 1 million people use American Sign Language as their main form of communication, yet different forms of sign language are barely represented in Hollywood films and television shows. And when they are, hearing actors are often cast to play Deaf roles.

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A Mighty Voice: While Baby Yoda knew how to sign, more often than not, Deaf people are excluded from conversations. Our contributor Jenna L.  wrote about her experience being excluded during a family Zoom call.

“If a few people could learn a few signs, it would help. If a few people could write back and forth and have a good dialogue where we learn about each other and our lives, I might feel welcomed. If we could have a conversation worthy of someone who has intelligence, opinions and feelings, I’d feel more included. All that would make things so much better. Maybe I’d even come to a party again.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

From Our Community:

#BabyYoda gives me life

Other Things to Know: While Hollywood has a long way to go to improve in authentically casting Deaf and disabled people, progress continues to be made. Learn about television and films that feature Deaf and disabled characters played by disabled actors:

How to Take Action: You can watch Troy Kostur’s interview with the Daily Moth below and read the transcript here on its website. You can also watch “The Mandalorian” on Disney+.

Image via Twitter/@helenalovier

Originally published: November 2, 2020
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