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Five deaf actors to watch on Netflix right now

deaf actors
We love seeing #DeafTalent on TV shows, movies and streaming services like Netflix. Deaf actors are proving they belong in these roles, by showing up in various productions this year.
Netflix, especially, is known for creating widely unique shows with a more diverse cast than other platforms, according to the Huffington Post. For example, I recently finished Season 2 of “You” on Netflix,  and was pleasantly surprised when one of the characters was revealed to be deaf. The American Sign Language sign for “I love you” also became a symbol throughout the season.

Check out Daniel Durant on “You,” as well as these other deaf actors on Netflix!

Five deaf actors to watch on Netflix right now

Daniel Durant in “You”

The deaf actor Daniel Durant plays the lead female’s late, deaf husband in the popular series, “You.” As the show goes on, we learn more and more about Durant’s character James and his relationship with his wife, Love.

Previously, Durant had roles in the 2015 Broadway Revival of “Spring Awakening” as Moritz Stiefel and in the television series “Switched at Birth” as Matthew.

“What I am most often told from audience members is that when deaf actors are portraying characters with hearing actors that use voice involved in that process, it provides opportunities for a wider audience to share in the experience together,” Durant told, regarding his role in “Spring Awakening.”

Durant was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, according to his bio on IMBD. He attended mainstream schools until the eighth grade, when he transferred to the Minnesota State School for the Deaf. He also attended RIT in Rochester, NY and Gallaudet, the federally chartered private university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing, in Washington, DC.  He is an active member and advocate for the deaf community, especially through social media.

Sean Berdy in “The Society”


Sean Berdy, a deaf actor, plays Sam, a (deaf) teenager in “The Society.” His character acts as a steady moral center in this apocalyptic teen drama, in a small New England town. You may know Berdy as Emmett Biedsoe, the teen heartthrob in Freeform’s family drama “Switched at Birth.” 

On his costars in “The Society”, Berdy tells TIME, “They literally knew not one sign. We had an ASL coach on set who was responsible for teaching the lines in sign language to the cast. They had to have lessons during their free time and sometimes had to work extra over the weekends. I’m so proud of the cast—It’s not easy and they’re doing a great job on the show.”

Berdy has always been able to hear a little bit and considers himself bilingual: his first language is ASL, but he does have the ability to speak. He’s even working on a script for a movie that features ASL.

“It’s a love story, and I hope to go into production in the next couple years,” Berdy told TIME. “ASL is hot right now—but it’s my life language and it’s a beautiful language.”

Dickie Hearts in “Tales of the City”

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Sooooo. This was last night. Honestly, couldn’t be prouder to represent the Deaf LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 community on @talesofthecity red carpet. Thank you @gettyimages for the pictures! JUNE 7TH, Y’ALL 🤟🏽🤟🏽♥️♥️ AND HAPPY PRIDE 🌈🌈🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍🌈 • • (Note: the last picture where I signed “Rainbow” 🌈🌈🌈 but looks like four’s, which clearly does not translate well to still pictures 😂😂🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️ LOL first time for everything 😅) • • • #TalesOfTheCity #RedCarpet #Premiere #NewYorkPremiere #NetflixPremiere #Netflix #Representation #RepresentationMatters #DeafTalent #DeafQueerTalent #LGBTQ #Love #HappyPride #HappyPrideMonth #PrideMonth #Pride #DeafGay #DeafQueer #NewYorkNewYork #NewYork #NY

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“Tales of the City” is a revival series of a show of the same name from the early ’90s. The show takes place in San Francisco and surrounds the LGBTQ community. The role of Mateo is played by Dickie Hearts, who is deaf and gay. Hearts previously had roles in “Grace and Frankie,” “Passengers,” and “My BFF.”

Hearts communicates via ASL (American Sign Language), and his short film “Passengers” won the Best Filmmaker title at the Disability Film Challenge a few years ago. The film is inspired by his own real-life experiences as a Lyft driver and some of the absurd things people said to him about his disability.

“I face a lot of interesting challenges,” he said in an exclusive interview with LGBTQ Nation. “At times, I do feel invisible, which can be frustrating. At the same time, it drives me more and gives me a stronger voice (or hands) as an actor-filmmaker.”

Lexi Cowden in “A Silent Voice”

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Different. #ASilentVoice

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“A Silent Voice” is an anime film adaptation of a popular Japanese manga series. It is about a young man, Shoya, who sets off on a path for redemption after he bullies a deaf girl, Shoko, to the point where she moves away. The English language adaptation features a deaf voice actress named Lexi Cowden in the role of the lead character, Shoya.

Lexi (also credited as Lexi Marman) speaks and is fluent in American Sign Language and has held roles in popular tv shows like “Glee” and “Without a Trace”. According to her IMDB page, she was also crowned Miss Deaf Cal State Northridge and Miss Deaf California.

A few years back, Lexi told Love Letters Live that she did not learn ASL until she was in high school and “has been deaf since the doctor gave her, at birth, a very wrong dose of medicine meant to reduce the fever she was born with.”

Shaylee Mansfield in “Feel the Beat”

“Feel the Beat” is about a dancer named April who was trying to make it in New York as a Broadway dancer, but failed her audition for a Broadway show and ended up back in her home town in Wisconsin. Back at home, she gets an opportunity to coach a competitive dance team and also learn some ASL for one of the deaf dance members on her team, Zuzu (Shaylee Mansfield.)

Mansfield is an 11-years-old actress who started her career as a YouTuber in a series called ASL Nook that teaches American Sign Language (ASL). She has also had roles in other shows such as “Deaf Out Loud,” “This Close,” and “Bunk’d.”

In the movie “Feel the Beat” Mansfield plays a deaf character who is also a dancer. In her role, she uses ASL, teaches her dance instructor, April, some ASL, and feels the beat to the music to dance. “When you look at the world, it is full of people who hear and ‘run by’ sounds,” Mansfield said to Yahoo. “Only the very, very few truly feel the beat – often they happen to be Deaf like me.”

According to Yahoo, Mansfield spreads deaf awareness in the film and TV industry reminding writers and producers that deaf people to be portrayed in an authentic way.

Bonus! One more Deaf actor to watch:

Chella Man in “Titans”

Although this show isn’t on Netflix and can be watched through the DC Universe streaming service, Man plays the character, Jericho, in the new superhero show called “Titans.”

Man is a deaf actor, model, and trans activist. In the show, Jericho is silent and cannot speak due to his severed vocal cords, which Man told Twitter he can relate to as a deaf person.

Read more: #DeafTalent: Deaf activist Chella Man cast for “Titans” Season 2

We can only hope that as Netflix continues to break down diversity stereotypes in their shows, the deaf and hard of hearing population will have an even larger presence on screen!

Do you know of any other shows featuring deaf actors? Let us know on Instagram or Facebook!

Author Details
Ashley is a 29-year-old who loves to travel and try new things. She has bi-lateral, severe hearing loss, and wears a Phonak Naída V-SP hearing aid in one ear and has an Esteem implant in the other. She plays soccer for the USA Women’s National Deaf Team. She’s currently traveling the world in pursuit of adventure and perspective while also learning about the deaf and hard of hearing communities in various countries. Her travels can be followed on instagram @ashley5chanel or on her blog