CBS’ ‘The Stand’ Series Faces Boycott for Casting Hearing Actor in Deaf Role

“It is time for industry professionals to create opportunities for Deaf talent,” members of Hollywood’s Deaf community write in a statement

Last Updated: December 18, 2020 @ 9:14 AM

Members of Hollywood’s Deaf community are boycotting “The Stand” after a hearing actor was cast to play a Deaf character in the CBS All Access limited series “The Stand.”

On Thursday, Dec. 17 — the day the series based on Stephen King’s 1978 novel premiered — a statement was posted to Twitter signed by 70 Deaf professionals who protested the show’s lack of Deaf representation after hearing actor Henry Zaga was picked to play Deaf character Nick Andros.

Dubbed “We Stand Against The Stand,” the statement asserts that “not one Deaf professional actor was called in to audition for the role,” and pledges not to “endorse, watch, or support” the miniseries.

Zaga discussed playing a character with disabilities with TheWrap last week, prior to the statement that was released Thursday.

“All we can do is play the character as respectfully and as honorably as possible by doing all the homework we can, by putting our hearts into it, and truly trying to understand how that situation would really play out,” Zaga told TheWrap.

“I went through a year of [learning American Sign Language] every single day, for over two hours a day,” he added. “It’s tough work, but it’s also like, if you think it’s available within your heart, you know, to portray this character, you better do a good job with it.”

A person with knowledge of the situation said that CBS All Access is meeting with the group that released the statement later today.

The “We Stand Against the Stand” statement also adds: “At the time of diversity and inclusion, this cycle of misrepresentation and unequal or non-existent employment opportunities for Deaf professionals in the entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera, must end. This has been happening for decades; enough is enough!”

Among the signatories are actors Antoinette Abbamonte (“The New Normal,” “Curb Your Entusiasm”), James Caverly (“Chicago Med,” “A Bennett Song Holiday”) Dickie Hearts (“Tales of the City,” “Grace & Frankie”), Andrew Morrill (stage productions of “Waiting for Godot,” “Alice in Wonderland”), and director Jules Dameron (“Reverse Polarity”), and executive producer and TV writer Jade Bryan.

Deaf model, reality TV star and “Deaf U” executive producer Nyle DiMarco spoke out against the show’s casting back in 2019, tweeting, “Nick Andros is DEAF in #TheStand and is being played by a hearing actor @henryzaga. Hollywood takes pride in diversity to ensure representation & authenticity.., BUT CONTINUES TO EXCLUDE people with disabilities.”