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Jameela Jamil declines a deaf movie role – is change on the horizon?

Jameela Jamil

British actress Jameela Jamil turned down a movie role for a deaf character.

“It wouldn’t be appropriate … to take that role and they should find a brilliant deaf woman to play it,” she told the Independent.

Calling for change

The 32-year-old star from “The Good Place,” a U.S. sitcom, was born partially deaf. She’s since had operations to improve her hearing and can now hear. It’s understandable why she feels a deaf actress should be given the part. Someone with more hearing loss could bring more meaning and truth to the character. “I think you have to make those choices and not be too greedy and make space rather than take space,” she told the Independent.

Jamil is speaking out about these issues helps to bring #DeafTalent to light. She is calling on Hollywood for “the big change that needs to happen. And then we won’t need to worry that we’re stealing the scarce amount of roles from other people.”

She’s passionate about this — as evidenced in her tweet — about making sure that “we all take on the fight to demand more roles for minorities, especially for LGBTQ and disability, so that we can continue to see on screen what we are living amongst in this world.”

Praise from the deaf Community

Jameela’s actions were commended by famous names in the deaf community for giving the opportunity to an actress who is deaf. Nyle DiMarco, winner of “America’s Next Top Model” and a deaf model and activist, was one of several to tweet support: “We need more actors like her!”

#DeafTalent Shining Stars

Hollywood is slowly changing, casting more people in films who are deaf and disabled. We saw some prime examples last year.

It shouldn’t be about big names and money, however. It’s more about recognizing the true potential of actors with disabilities, the awareness they bring, and giving them a chance to shine.

With the right casting, films can reach untapped audiences and kick up a whirlwind within those communities. Perhaps that’s the kind of advertising films need?

Take a look at these talented individuals:

Millicent Simmonds

Simmonds starred in “A Quiet Place and “Wonderstruck, which made her a celebrity. In turn, this raised deaf awareness and brought Deaf Culture and sign language to Hollywood.

Lauren Ridloff

Cast in ‘The Walking Dead’ as a major character, Ridloff is a fantastic example of an actor whose talent is on par with hearing peers.

Maisie Sly

Oscar Award-winning Sly was the leading lady in “The Silent Child.” The powerful short film brought to light the struggles that children who are deaf face and showed how much they can achieve with the right support.

That’s just to name a few. As we await the casting for the role Jamil passed up, we can ponder the following question: Will this be the year we see big change and equal representation of deafness and disability in the media from Hollywood?

Read more about #deaftalent and Hollywood here! 

Author Details
Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and wears Phonak Sky Q hearing aids. She is currently learning British Sign Language. Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new challenge. Her deafness didn’t prevent her from achieving major accomplishments in her life, such as excelling in her education, previously working as a Marketing Executive and now as an Events Coordinator for a deaf organization, as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf awareness, campaigning for equality and helping others through her personal blog as Deafie Blogger.