Why Hearing Actors Playing Deaf Characters Still Sparks Backlash

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TheWrap Special Report: “We know right off the bat whether the intents of the artists are genuine,” Deaf West Theatre artistic director DJ Kurs says

Hearing Actors Playing Deaf Characters Riz Ahmed Julianne Moore Henry Zaga
Riz Ahmed in "Sound of Metal," Julianne Moore in "Wonderstruck" and Henry Zaga in "The Stand" all portraying deaf characters/Amazon/Roadside Attractions/CBS

This story is the third in a three-part Spotlight on Deaf Actors

When deaf actress Deanne Bray was auditioning for the PAX crime series “Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye” to portray a real-life deaf FBI agent, she was alarmed to encounter more hearing actresses auditioning for the part of a deaf character than actresses like herself.

“I remember showing up and waiting in the lobby witnessing voice coaches working with hearing actors to sound more deaf-like. To find places to lessen their speech skills,” Bray told TheWrap. “I was disappointed seeing that. Growing up for 18 years learning to pronounce parts of speech in school in speech sessions and not being able to speak like a hearing person.


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