THE RISE OF BIPOC 
DEAF TALENT® CREATIVES

#DeafTalent is a hashtag showcasing Deaf people who are involved in entertainment and media industries in positions such as performers, editors, sign language coaches, stuntpersons, filmmakers, screenwriters, scriptwriters, producers, and cinematographers. The hashtag is often used on social media platforms to highlight the existence and capabilities of these individuals, commonly referred to as “Deaf creatives.” 

 

The hashtag was originally coined on September 5, 2011 and trademarked by Ann Marie “Jade” Bryan, widely considered the first Black Deaf female filmmaker in the United States. The phrase DeafTalent was created as part of several hashtags on social media:  #DeafTalentsOfColor, #BlackDeafTalent and #POCDeafTalent. [1]

To illustrate an example of protesting against this type of casting, 80 signatories were attached to a statement, titled “Taking a Stand Against The Stand”, and one of Jade Bryan’s tweets got picked up and circulated by several major media to make a point. [2] [3] 

The Deaf community did not support the decision to cast a hearing actor, Henry Zaga, to play Nick Andros, a Deaf character who signs, in the 2020 CBS adaption of The Stand without calling on a single deaf professional actor to audition for the role. [4]

LACK OF BIPOC DEAF REPRESENTATION

According to the 2022 Hollywood Diversity Report, out of the 251 screenwriters for top box office feature films in 2021, nearly 68% were white, 47% were white men, specifically. [cite: Hollywood Diversity Report 2022]

 

A Hollywood Diversity report released a year prior showed that during the 2019-2020 television season, out of the 1,214 broadcast script writers, only 26.4% were people of color, and white men made up 46.1% of the total. [cite: Hollywood Diversity Report 2021]

 

As the creator of the #DeafTalent hashtag, Jade intended for the hashtag to put the spotlight on BIPOC Deaf creatives, who oftentimes fall far behind their Caucasian peers in opportunities in the media and entertainment industries. Jade noted that the hashtag has been frequently used on several platforms centering on single identity politics of Caucasian Deaf creatives without giving proper credit and acknowledgment to her being the originator of the #DeafTalent movement.[5] [6]

 

The following chart shows [7] [8] © the number of BIPOC Deaf Talent in each area of the entertainment industry: [Source: Compiled by Jade Bryan/Deaf Talent® Casting, July 2022.©

Deaf Talent® Media & Entertainment Consulting]

 

As part of the effort to continue highlighting the presence of BIPOC Deaf creatives, Jade filed the necessary paperwork for ownership of the term with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2020. These terms are nowtrademarked/copyrighted with Jade: #DeafTalent, #DEAFTALENT, and DEAF TALENT [9] [10] [11]

#DEAFTALENT® WIKIFACTS LINKS

1. #DeafTalent® Movement

2. Deaf professionals sign letter calling out 'The Stand' for lack of inclusion: 'Enough is       enough'

 

3Stressing That The Casting Of Henry Zaga As Deaf-Mute Nick Andros On The Series 'Not Acceptable,' Members Of Hollywood's Deaf Community Declares, 'Enough Is Enough!'

4. Deaf Community Members Protest Hearing Actor Playing Deaf Character on ‘The Stand’: “Enough Is Enough”

5. Single Identity Respectability Politics

6. Mission of Deaf Talent Movement

7. The Rise of BIPOC Deaf Talent® Creatives [Chart 1] 

8. Deaf Talent® by Ethnicities [Chart 2]

9 Trademark Registration Certifications - #DeafTalent: Class 41, #DEAFTALENT: Class 41, and #DEAFTALENT, Class 25.

Information about Trademark Infringement and FAQs.

EXTERNAL LINKS: 

PEOPLE

Bryan captioned the Thursday post, "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."

AI-MEDIA

"Now, I'd like to talk about #POCDeafTalent. I formed that movement in 2012 while I was working on another project called The Shattered Mind"

HUFFINGTONPOST UK

"Other prominent figures from the deaf community agree the show doesn’t feel inclusive. Jade Bryan, an activist and founder of the #DeafTalent movement , refused to watch the show on moral grounds because of the lack of diversity behind the cameras."

AFROPUNK

"There’s a huge lack of representation of Deaf Talents of Color in film and TV. Our goal is to spread and increase awareness that we need more Deaf Talents of Color in the mainstream movie industry and in television. That’s why as a writer, I am in process of crowdfunding another campaign via Gofundme soon for a sitcom TV pilot entitled, ‘The Two Essences, about a deaf mother and daughter relationships."

 

BCOMBER

"With a BFA in film production, Jade Bryan (1965- ) founded two companies: DeafVision Filmworks and Jade Films and Entertainment. She has also been a producer and director for many documentaries. One of her feature films, “The Shatter Mind,” won the award for Best Sound and Audience Award, including many others. But she doesn’t stop at being an award-winning producer and director, she is also an activist fighting for representation in Hollywood. She started #DeafTalent, a social media movement that seeks to put Deaf actors in Deaf roles."

SOUNDSTRIPE

"Jade Bryan — the industry’s first black deaf filmmaker — spearheaded the DeafTalent Campaign on social media in 2012 and created documentaries like "Reaching Zenith: A Black Deaf Filmmaker’s Journey" (2005) that expose the barriers that deaf creators face."

 

THE ROOT 

“When you arrest them, you take their hands and take their mode of communication away from them,” filmmaker, activist and creator of #DeafTalent, Jade Bryan told The Root. “You’re taking away my right to speak.”

WOMEN IN IDIA

"Jade Bryan, a filmmaker, writer and creator of the #DeafTalent movement, has advocated on behalf of Deaf film creatives throughout her professional career. Bryan, in fact, cast Ridloff in her 2001 film debut, ‘If You Could Hear My Own Tune”’ “I’m an activist. I’m very vocal. There’s not enough visibility about Black, BIPOC Deaf actors behind or in front of the camera—and on the big screen.” said Bryan. In 2015, she pitched a story about a Black Deaf superhero to both Marvel and DC, championing for a “spotlight on multiculturally & racially diverse Deaf Talent playing superhero roles in film and television.” 

WHAT SHE LIKES

The next installment of the Marvel film franchise, Marvel’s Eternals, was released in theatres on November 5th, with actress Lauren Ridloff playing Marvel’s first Deaf onscreen superhero. Makari for, played by Ridloff, is the first Black Deaf woman superhero to be shown in a major motion picture series. Throughout her professional career, Jade Bryan, a filmmaker, writer, and founder of the #DeafTalent campaign has pushed for Deaf cinema creatives. Further systemic change for Deaf inclusion in film and television is sought by Deaf film industry workers and consumers. Fortunately, moviegoers are demanding more diversity for their money these days.

DISABILITY HORIZONS

Jade Bryan, a Deaf filmmaker who founded the #DeafTalent movement, articulates the problem as a failure of representation: “There was a Deaf cast, which is a good thing. However, I felt they were in the movie as a crutch to support a story about the main character.”

BLACK DEAF FILMMAKERS

Jade believes in promoting inclusion, visibility and positive representation about Deaf Talent who identifies as POC or Black on television and film. She created the #POCDeafTalent and #BlackDeafTalent movement in 2012 to spread awareness on social media. 

THE RISE OF BIPOC DEAF TALENT® CREATIVES 

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Jade Bryan, a filmmaker, writer and creator of the #DeafTalent movement, has advocated on behalf of Deaf film creatives throughout her professional career. Bryan, in fact, cast Ridloff in her 2001 film debut, ‘If You Could Hear My Own Tune”’ “I’m an activist. I’m very vocal. There’s not enough visibility about Black, BIPOC Deaf actors behind or in front of the camera—and on the big screen.” said Bryan. In 2015, she pitched a story about a Black Deaf superhero to both Marvel and DC, championing for a “spotlight on multiculturally & racially diverse Deaf Talent playing superhero roles in film and television.”

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However, Sound of Metal did include Deaf actors for some roles, such as Lauren Ridloff, Chelsea Lee, Shaheem Sanchez and Jeremy Lee Stone, in addition to Deaf extras. But these were all minor characters, at times lacking names or backstories. Jade Bryan, a Deaf filmmaker who founded the #DeafTalent movement, articulates the problem as a failure of representation: “There was a Deaf cast, which is a good thing. However, I felt they were in the movie as a crutch to support a story about the main character.” 

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“It’s important to call out the producers of ‘Deaf U’ because it is misleading and dangerous to set the precedent that Black, Deaf females do not exist,” says Jade Bryan, a Black, Deaf filmmaker, television writer and producer who founded the #DeafTalent movement. “We’re everywhere.”

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Jade Bryan is a social justice activist and is the first Black Deaf, award-winning filmmaker with 25 years of film production and a BFA degree from Tisch, New York University. . She has written 10 screenplays, produced six documentaries, feature films, and is the founder and creator of the #DeafTalent® Movement to raise awareness for Deaf Talent who are POC, Black, and other ethnicities who have been systematically boxed out of the film and TV industry.

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Re:Set spoke to Jade Bryan, filmmaker and the founder and creator of the #DeafTalent Movement and Adrienne Gravish, a writer and artist, to learn more about the reception of the release within the community and glean their views as Black deaf creatives. From their expectations when the show was announced to the glaring gaps seen in terms of representation, they share the pressing issues that need to be addressed.

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