By: Kirsten Aucoin (10/06/16)
Marlee Matlin is a Deaf woman known for becoming the first – and so far only – Deaf actor to win an Oscar.
Matlin’s film debut was what earned her the award. She starred as a main character in the movie ‘Children of a Lesser God’ in 1986, when she was 21. That role kick started her career.
Her next film was the very next year and from there she was seen more and more – films, TV movies, documentaries, and TV series. She competed on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in 2008.
In 2011, the television show ‘Switched at Birth’ came onto the scene. The show is about two teenagers who were…well, switched at birth. One of the girls (Daphne) who was switched is Deaf, and the show creators decided to really showcase the Deaf community on the show. Marlee Matlin played the role of Melody, the mother of Daphne’s best friend.
2015 brought Deaf West revival of ‘Spring Awakening’ – a rock musical. Making musicals accessible and relatable to both hearing and deaf audience members – by having both hearing and Deaf cast – was no small feat. Yet the concept was exciting, and Marlee Matlin was cast to play the adult women in the show. The revival was a hit and introduced many new people to the world of ASL – it even was nominated for some Tony awards, along with having performances on the Tony Awards and Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Aside from acting Matlin published her first fiction book in 2002 (which was followed by a couple more and a memoir), has been involved in various charity works, has helped create the app Marlee Signs to help teach ASL, etc.
Overall, Marlee Matlin has been an inspiring voice for the Deaf community.