More than 70 members of Hollywood’s Deaf community have signed a statement telling CBS All Access that hiring a hearing actor to play a Deaf character is “not acceptable.”
In the streamer’s new adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Stand”, actor Henry Zaga — who isn’t Deaf — plays Deaf character Nick Andros, a casting decision that has angered the signatories of a statement criticizing the move.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, among those to sign are Antoinette Abbamonte (“The New Normal”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), director Jules Dameron (“Reverse Polarity”), actor James Caverly (“Chicago Med”, “A Bennett Song Holiday”), actor Dickie Hearts (“Tales of the City”, “Grace & Frankie”) and others.
“We will not endorse, watch, or support your miniseries on CBS All Access,” the statement reads. “We will share our displeasure of the casting decision and airing of the miniseries on CBS All Access with our Deaf community, signing community, friends, and family of Deaf individuals; together we make up 466 million worldwide.”
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In addition, the statement alleges that “not one Deaf professional actor was called in to audition for the role,” and that the decision to cast Zaga “was made without respect to and for Deaf professionals, union and non-union alike.”
Talent manager Robert Rossi, who represents several Deaf actors, issued a separate statement to THR, supporting this claim.
“I was not notified or contacted or aware of the casting of this project,” wrote Rossi. “Usually SAG diversity office reaches out directly to me and the diversity casting department at networks. Nobody reached out. It was already a done deal and here is the problem: Multiple Deaf/native signers could have authentically portrayed this role.”
The statement is being shared on social media, along with the hashtag #StandAgainsttheStand.
As a Black Deaf filmmaker/TV Creator, advocate of diversity & inclusion, acting instructor, & creator/owner of #Deaftalent®️ campaign, I believe in change. It shouldn’t be that difficult to cast the right person for the role.#StandAgainstTheStand #TheStand #RepresentationMatter pic.twitter.com/WBpomfxpmz
— Jade Bryan – TV Writer & HBIC of #DeafTalent® (@DeafShowRunner) December 17, 2020
ET Canada has learned that CBS has had a very productive meeting on Thursday with the Deaf artists’ community that produced the statement.