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Nyle DiMarco Is Creating a Comedy About Deaf Culture

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What happened: “Switched at Birth” actor Nyle DiMarco made his reality TV debut as the first Deaf winner of “America’s Next Top Model.” Next, he smoked the competition in “Dancing With the Stars.” Now, the multitalented star has partnered up with Daniel Dae Kim’s production company 3AD and Melrose Placed to create a half-hour comedy that follows the story of a deaf man in America. According to Deadline, the actor sold the script to Spectrum.

If i told my younger self that I would eventually have my own series about deaf culture, i wouldn’t believe it. Deaf people leading in a series about deaf culture? Not possible! This is huge for me… thank you all. — Nyle DiMarco

Deadline described DiMarco’s series as “an irreverent comedy centered around his experiences as a charismatic, smart deaf man in modern times.” The main goal is to offer a deeper perspective about the real-life experiences of deaf and hard-of-hearing communities in America. This is likely part of much-needed effort by Spectrum to ramp up inclusivity. Katherine Pope, head of Spectrum’s original content division, told Deadline in January that the network was looking to highlight more unique voices and had two shows in the pipeline about the deaf community.

The Frontlines: It’s no secret that deaf representation is greatly lacking in Hollywood. Over the last five years, John Krasinki’s “A Quiet Place” set a precedent by casting deaf actress Millicent Simmonds in a leading role, but deaf portrayals and actors in lead roles have been slim on TV. Still, according to the World Health Organization:

  • 432 million adults and 34 million children are hard of hearing or deaf
  • One in every 10 people are expected to be hard of hearing or deaf by 2050
  • Despite plenty of people with lived experience, an estimated 95% of characters with disabilities are portrayed by non-disabled actors — and these statistics include people who are deaf or hard of hearing

A Mighty Voice: Though many people are deaf or hard of hearing, it can feel isolating, and not just with the lack of mainstream representation. Our contributor, Jenna L., opened up about feeling excluded by her family because of her deafness.

“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,” she wrote. “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.” You can submit your first person story, too.

From Our Community:

How to get help? Can’t get an ASL interpreter for a doctor’s appointment?! Aren’t they required by law to provide one?

Add your voice:

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Other things to know: You don’t have to be deaf or hard of hearing like DiMarco to create more inclusive and accessible spaces. Check out these links to find out more:

How to take action: DiMarco’s comedy has just been announced. A title hasn’t even been named, but you can follow the actor on Twitter to get more information when it’s finally revealed.

Header image via Nyle DiMarco/Instagram

Originally published: July 14, 2020
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