Nyle DiMarco on Representing Deaf Community in Hollywood: "We Have Lots of Stories to Tell"

"I see the importance of getting involved in media and in Hollywood and just as a deaf person, I have the power to actually evoke some change," the model, actor and producer told The Hollywood Reporter.

Model, actor and producer Nyle DiMarco had no plans of getting involved in the entertainment industry until America’s Next Top Model came knocking at the door.

“I wanted to teach math. That was actually my goal. I wanted to teach at a deaf university and become a superintendent or a president,” he told The Hollywood Reporter In Studio through a sign language interpreter, while promoting his Broadway play Children of a Lesser God.

After the modeling competition show kept pursuing him to audition, DiMarco, who was born deaf, decided to take a chance on the opportunity, ultimately leading him to a career in entertainment and becoming an activist for the deaf community.

“I’m trying to really change that stigma that we all feel. I can shoulder that responsibility and I can represent deaf people really well,” he told THR.

“I see the importance of really getting involved in media and in Hollywood and just as a deaf person, I have the power to actually evoke some change,” DiMarco added. “If it means changing people’s perspectives on deaf people, I’m there for it.”

DiMarco also discussed a movie theater experience recently that went viral, when he went to see Black Panther using a captioning device that missed lines from actors, made a distracting amount of noise and resulted in him walking out of the movie due to the “awful experience.” After tweeting about the incident, he received an overwhelmingly positive response from others in similar situations wanting a change in the moviegoing experience.

"Growing up, we had captioning on the screen, but now they’ve changed that to having the device, and this actually costs a lot more money to get this device than it actually does to put captioning on the screen, so we should bring that back, have that accessibility for everyone, not just for deaf people, but hearing people as well," DiMarco said.

"I tweeted and I asked people who they use for captioning and over 100,000 people retweeted that comment and I was, like, ‘Wow, this is actually something that’s really big,'" he added. "I haven’t seen Black Panther to this day."

DiMarco also shared what people should know about those with disabilities and how much can be achieved in front and behind the camera: “Really, people with disabilities have a different perspective on life growing up. They really look at the world completely different than everyone else. We think that Hollywood could actually benefit because we have lots of stories to tell.” 

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