While Hollywood is facing a new reckoning concerning how it handles representation, some actors are taking advantage of the tumult to create opportunities for themselves. That can be said about the male model and actor Nyle DiMarco, who has a comedy series based about his life as a deaf man in development.
The show, which will air on Spectrum, stars DiMarco in what has been described as an “irreverent comedy” that focuses on his life as a charming, intelligent deaf man in the present day. The episodes are said to provide “funny, character-based storytelling designed to provide a deeper perspective on the experiences of the deaf and hard of hearing communities in America.”
Katherine Pope, who is in charge of Spectrum’s original content division, said in an interview with Deadline that she wanted to produce more programming for make shows for groups that are typically overlooked in media, including the deaf community. She said,
“We’re looking to slice up our audience, we’re looking for shows that other people aren’t making. We’re doing a couple of projects in terms of accessibility needs, we’re doing two shows set in the deaf community. Everybody talks about inclusion and different voices and we’re trying to be more inclusive.”
DiMarco, who was the winner of the 22nd seasons of America’s Next Top Model and Dancing With The Stars, will also executive produce the series. In addition to his reality television appearances, he also has some acting credits to his name, with guest appearances on Switched at Birth, Difficult People, and Station 19. He even helped produce the 2018 Broadway revival of Children of a Lesser God.
DiMarco posted a celebratory tweet lauding the opportunity of having such a progressive series on the air that could truly represent the deaf community in an authentic way. He wrote,
“If I told my younger self that I would eventually have my own series about Deaf culture, I wouldn’t believe it. Deaf people leading in a series about deaf culture? Not possible! This is huge for me… thank you all!”
DiMarco’s new show is truly a step forward for representation of the deaf community. They are often underserved in television and film, and on the occasions that they do appear, are typical one-dimensional characters who are defined by their disability.
Even more unfortunate, is the fact that these characters are often played by actors without disability, taking away opportunities from those who could truly portray these characters with the gravity and nuance that they deserve.
DiMarco is a deaf activist and has called out directors before for this practice, chastising them for casting hearing people in deaf roles. In a Youtube video denouncing the casting of Catalina Sandino Moreno, a hearing actress who plays a deaf mother in the movie Medeas, he signed,
“We know what is real here.”
He also compared it to choosing a white person to play a minority character.
This new show is an important step in changing the system, and hopefully, the series will truly display a sincere depiction of the deaf community that has seriously been lacking in the media. DiMarco’s inclusion should bring more eyes to the program, and more diversity in representation that is available to the public is always a good thing.
On top of his new show, DiMarco will also be the Executive Producer on two new Netflix docuseries: Deaf U and Audible.