Nyle DiMarco Shares Why Deaf Representation in Hollywood Is So Important

By Paige Strout Apr 26, 2022 9:10 PMTags

If the success of the film CODA has taught Nyle DiMarco anything, it's that Hollywood is ready for more deaf representation.

The model, actor and activist stopped by E! News' Daily Pop on April 26 to exclusively chat about the importance of deaf stories in the media, including those in his new book, Deaf Utopia: A Memoir—And a Love Letter to a Way of Life.

"It's incredibly amazing to see an entirely deaf ensemble as a family carry a film. And not only to carry it, but to carry it to Best Picture on the Oscar stage," DiMarco told host Justin Sylvester about CODA's Oscars wins. "I think it's very telling that we're not just in a moment. We're now in a movement for the deaf community. And you can see that people are hungry for more of our stories and that they're curious about the things that we're coming to tell."

Must-Read Celeb Memoirs

Not only is seeing deaf actors on-screen important to DiMarco, 32, but so is the inclusion of deaf creators behind the scenes.

"I have been challenging Hollywood to bring in more deaf people, not only on-screen—as we've seen, as representation is increasing—but also, we need it behind the camera, as well," he shared. "We need that authentic perspective."

DiMarco is currently developing the new movie Deaf President Now! Based on the book of the same name, the film will focus on the 1988 protests at Gallaudet University, the world's only deaf university.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

"[The protest] was due to 124 years of hearing paternalism at a college that was entirely attended by deaf people," he said. "It's an incredibly telling story about where we are as a community and where we come from. So much of that protest actually gave rise to the passage of the ADA [American with Disabilities Act], which protects us in things like the projects that we're making now."

Growing up deaf was nothing out of the ordinary for DiMarco, who is the fourth generation of his family to be born deaf. It wasn't until he went to public school in the fifth grade that he began to see himself as "different than other people." But that didn't mess with his self-confidence

"I've always loved who I am. And I've always seen hearing people like foreigners," he said. "I always tell people to look at us the same way. We just have a different culture and a different community. It's really interesting how hearing people and deaf people are so different, but I don't know if I ever really had a moment where I thought, ‘I love myself as a deaf person today on.' It's really from birth."

Celebs Who've Written Children's Books

As for what advice he would give to other people struggling to accept themselves? "I always tell people: Social media is such an incredible tool that we can use as a resource to find our sense of community," he shared. "Even if you don't have a sense of community where you live or where you are in your journey, you can find those people certainly online who think like you and are on a similar path. Really finding yourself, you know, through community there is fantastic."

Check out the full interview in the clip above.

Deaf Utopia: A Memoir—And a Love Letter to a Way of Life is available now where books are sold.