Meet Justina Miles, Who Made History With ASL Performance During Rihanna's Super Bowl Halftime Show

Justina Miles is the first female deaf performer for the Super Bowl halftime show and did an ASL rendition of Rihanna's performance. Learn more about her.

By Elyse Dupre Feb 13, 2023 6:43 PMTags
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Justina Miles was shining bright like a diamond at the 2023 Super Bowl.

The 20-year-old became the first female deaf performer for the Super Bowl halftime show after she provided the American Sign Language rendition of Rihanna's performance on Feb. 12. As viewers watched the 13-minute show, they took to social media to suggest that Miles take a bow. 

"Rihanna of course was [fire]," one social media user tweeted. "But let's take a moment for #JustinaMiles! First female deaf performer and damn…she owned it! #SuperBowlLVII #ASL." Added another, "Shout out to Justina Miles #ASL #SuperBowl #RihannaSuperBowl #Rihanna."

However, this wasn't Miles' only history-making moment of the night. While Sheryl Lee Ralph was singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," Miles signed the song, making it the first-time ever there was an ASL rendition of it at the Super Bowl.

During an Apple Music Halftime Show press conference on Feb. 9, Miles shared what it meant to her to perform "Lift Every Voice and Sing" in ASL.

"That song represents resilience for me," she noted through an ASL interpreter. "The national anthem never really resonated with me personally, and the Black national anthem is really inspiring and empowering. This song is so positive, it's so beautiful and you don't really hear or see it very often or even hear about it. And there's many folks who don't even know the Black national anthem exists. It's not only for me to share this experience with the whole world, but to really bring that empowerment to millions and millions of Black, deaf people all over the country who've never really seen that before."

Miles added, "And so they should feel inspired and that's the same way I feel. I feel like that is truly lifting every voice, even my voice."

Rihanna's 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show

In addition to Miles' performances, Troy Kotsur—who is from Arizona where the Super Bowl was played and won an Oscar last year for his role in CODAprovided the ASL performance of the national anthem (which was sung by Chris Stapleton). Colin Denny, who is from Navajo Nation in Arizona and is a research assistant for the study of North American Indian Sign Language at the University of Arizona, also performed "America the Beautiful" through a combination of ASL and North American Indian Sign Language.

To learn more about Miles, keep scrolling.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

She's from Philadelphia.

"Hailing from the City of Brotherly Love with a passion for the arts," her bio shared on the National Association of the Deaf's (NAD) website reads, "Justina Miles lives to dance and creatively express through music and sign language."

However, the organization notes she now lives in Maryland.

She's a student.

Miles attends Bowie State University, where according to her bio she studies nursing and is a cheerleader. The website also notes that she was valedictorian at her high school, Model Secondary School for the Deaf, in Washington DC.

She's also an athlete.

In addition, her bio states she represented the U.S. team at the 2021/2022 Deaflympics in Brazil and won a silver medal for running in the 4X100 women's track relay with her team.

Her ASL performance of Rihanna's Super Bowl halftime show has gone viral.

In fact, one video of her ASL rendition has been liked more than 3.4 million times on TikTok.

You have seen some of her performances in ASL before. 

According to CNBC's Make It, Miles went viral in 2020 after doing the TikTok #crushonyouchallenge and performing in ASL Lil' Kim's "Crush on You."

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