Nyle DiMarco, Concordia Studio Partner for Real-Life Drama 'Deaf President Now!'

Nyle DiMarco —  Publicity — H 2020
William Callan

The project is set at Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier institution of higher education for deaf and hard of hearing students.

Concordia Studio is backing a real-life drama set at Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier institution of higher education for deaf and hard of hearing students, with help from Nyle DiMarco. 

The deaf actor and activist will work with Concordia to develop a narrative feature based on the nonfiction book Deaf President Now! The 1988 Revolution at Gallaudet University by John B. Christiansen and Sharon N. Barnartt. 

The project is set during the week of protests at Gallaudet in 1988 after the University's board of trustees selected a hearing candidate for president of the school over several equally qualified deaf candidates. After eight days of rallies, boycotts and protests — known as "The Week of DPN" — the selected hearing president resigned and Dr. I. King Jordan was named the university’s first deaf president.

DiMarco, a Gallaudet alum, will produce alongside Concordia co-founder Jonathan King. Concordia's Patrick Callan will oversee development for the studio.

"When Nyle told me about the Deaf President Now movement and its impact on the course of civil rights for everyone, not just Deaf people, I knew we had to tell this story," said King. "It’s both empowering and viscerally cinematic to witness these protests led by Deaf students taking place in the nation’s capital in the middle of an election year."

Added DiMarco: "Learning about the Deaf President Now movement as a young Deaf boy, I was in awe of how Deaf people like me were able to make such a powerful impact on the world. It was, and still is, such a monumental event in the history of Deaf people and the disability community, helping pave the way towards the Americans with Disabilities Act and more."

He continued, "I’m beyond thrilled to bring this story to the big screen and I’m honored to do it with a world class team that believes in telling stories in an authentic way — in this case, a Deaf story told by Deaf people." 

"The Deaf President Now movement is a moment in civil rights history with an impact felt far beyond our campus," said Roberta J. Cordano, president of Gallaudet University, which has granted use of the University’s name and is consulting on the project. "We are very pleased to be working with Concordia Studio and Nyle to share this story that has taken on an almost-mythic quality for many people."

DiMarco, repped by APA, is set to exec produce Deaf U, a Netflix coming-of-age documentary series following a tight-knit group of deaf students at Gallaudet.