Movies & TV Shows With Deaf Characters Played By REAL Deaf People

Movies & TV Shows With Deaf Characters Played By REAL Deaf People

Representation of diversity in media is crucial, and one aspect of this is the portrayal of deaf characters by real deaf actors. This not only provides authentic representation but also showcases the talent and abilities of deaf individuals in the entertainment industry. Here are some movies and TV shows that have successfully incorporated deaf characters played by real deaf people.

1. The Silent Child (2017)

The Silent Child is a short film directed by Chris Overton that revolves around a deaf four-year-old girl named Libby, played by Maisie Sly, who communicates through British Sign Language. The film sheds light on the challenges faced by deaf children and the importance of proper communication and education. Maisie Sly is a deaf actress and her portrayal of the character adds authenticity to the film’s narrative.

2. Switched at Birth (2011-2017)

Switched at Birth is a TV series that features several deaf characters, including Daphne Vasquez, portrayed by deaf actress Katie Leclerc. The show explores deaf culture and sign language, and the inclusion of real deaf actors adds depth to the representation of deaf individuals in the storyline.

3. A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet Place is a horror film directed by John Krasinski, in which the Abbott family must navigate and survive in a world inhabited by blind extraterrestrial creatures with an acute sense of hearing. Millicent Simmonds, a deaf actress, plays the role of Regan Abbott, a deaf teenager who becomes a key character in the family’s struggle for survival. Simmonds’ deafness brings an authentic portrayal of a deaf character in a mainstream Hollywood film.

4. Wonderstruck (2017)

Wonderstruck is a film that tells the story of two deaf children from different time periods, set 50 years apart. Millicent Simmonds also stars in this film, portraying the character of Rose, a deaf girl living in 1927. The film effectively captures the experiences of deaf individuals and Simmonds’ performance as a deaf actress adds credibility to the character she portrays.

5. CODA (2021)

CODA, an acronym for Child of Deaf Adults, is a heartwarming film that follows the story of Ruby, a teen who is the only hearing member of her deaf family. The character of Ruby is played by Emilia Jones, a hearing actress who learned American Sign Language for the role. While Emilia Jones is not deaf, her dedication to accurately representing the experiences of CODAs is commendable.

6. You Were Never Really Here (2017)

In this thriller film, Ekaterina Samsonov, a deaf actress, portrays the role of Nina, a young girl who becomes a central figure in a conspiracy involving corruption and violence. Samsonov’s performance as a deaf actress adds a unique dimension to the character’s portrayal and highlights the versatility of deaf actors in diverse genres.

7. This Close (2018-2019)

This Close is a TV series that revolves around the lives of two deaf best friends, Kate and Michael, played by Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman, both of whom are deaf actors. The show delves into the personal and professional challenges faced by deaf individuals, and the casting of deaf actors in the lead roles provides a genuine representation of their experiences.

Benefits of Casting Real Deaf Actors in Deaf Roles

  • Authentic Representation: By casting real deaf actors in deaf roles, filmmakers and TV producers can ensure authentic representation of deaf characters and their experiences.
  • Cultural Accuracy: Deaf actors bring cultural nuances and accuracy to the portrayal of deaf characters, including the use of sign language and insights into deaf community dynamics.
  • Empowerment: Casting real deaf actors empowers deaf individuals by providing them with opportunities to showcase their talent and abilities, breaking stereotypes and promoting inclusivity in the entertainment industry.
  • Education and Awareness: Films and TV shows featuring deaf characters played by real deaf actors have the potential to educate and raise awareness about deaf culture, language, and the challenges faced by the deaf community.
  • Representation Matters: Representation of diverse talents and experiences in media plays a vital role in shaping societal perceptions and fostering a sense of belonging for all individuals, including those with disabilities.

Challenges and Progress in Deaf Representation

While the inclusion of deaf characters played by real deaf actors is a positive step forward, there are still challenges and limitations in the representation of deaf individuals in mainstream media. Some of these challenges include:

  • Narrow Casting Opportunities: Deaf actors often face limited opportunities for roles that are not specifically written as deaf characters, thus restricting their potential for diverse acting roles.
  • Support for Deaf Talent: There is a need for greater support and advocacy for deaf actors, including access to training, resources, and equitable opportunities in the entertainment industry.
  • Audience Accessibility: While there is progress in featuring deaf characters, there is still a need for increased accessibility and inclusion of closed captions, sign language interpretation, and diverse representation for audiences with varying levels of hearing abilities.


The inclusion of real deaf actors in portraying deaf characters in movies and TV shows is a significant advancement in diversifying representation and providing opportunities for authentic storytelling. It is essential for the entertainment industry to continue promoting inclusivity and providing platforms for deaf talent to thrive. By highlighting the experiences, talents, and perspectives of deaf individuals, we can enrich the cultural landscape and foster greater acceptance and understanding in society.


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