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Interview with Amelia Hensley

AMELIA: This is heavy.




How do you know my name?


AMELIA: I remember sitting in the auditorium, and seeing all these hearing people in awe, inspired. I was repulsed. I can’t have that. No.


MELISSA: Tru Biz is here with Amelia Hensley.




Oh you’re beautiful!

Never be the one…


MELISSA: Now everyone is reading that article she wrote, titled, “Hollywood & Broadway, Stop Overlooking Deaf Actors.”


AMELIA: I remember that night, I thought hard to myself before I made that post, and that’s where it started, when it went viral, about “Wonderstruck.”


AMELIA: The website focuses on diversity and disability, trying to get involved in the acting world, but continues to run into oppressive barriers-- a lot of stories like that. They thought my concept matched their overall aim.


AMELIA: I was flattered and inspired by this. I thought, “Me, write an article?” I was nervous, but I realized, if I feel scared, then I should say yes.


AMELIA: This was my fourth, fifth or sixth draft so far. I made sure I asked other #DeafTalent for their input for this. I didn’t want to be the sole voice. We all made an agreement on this, on whether we needed to include more. I had this one opportunity-- I was asked to do this, and the other #DeafTalent didn’t have that opportunity, so I collected their thoughts too for this. And that’s how it all started.


AMELIA: Naturally, I felt worried, because I have some good friends involved in this film. I was like, “How do they really feel about this?” I don’t want them to think that I looked down on them. I respect whatever choices they have to make. But that’s not my focus. My focus is that you decided to give a deaf role to a hearing actor. That’s it. That’s my focus.


AMELIA: Hollywood gave opportunities that helped people learn more about Deaf people and that’s great. The visibility is important. But unfortunately, they had to do it by hiring a hearing person to plays a deaf person. What about us? We work just as hard as hearing people. Why don’t we have the outlet to show our work, as well?


AMELIA: I know that having an actual Deaf actor still inspires audiences everywhere, like Millicent for example. Why not continue that? If that was done, the film would do extremely well.


MELISSA: At one point you made it clear that you wanted to support Millicent.


AMELIA: Of course! She’s doing well, and being the only Deaf person in the middle of so many hearing people, with only a few Deaf people around. Dealing with all that-- that takes a brave soul.


AMELIA: There’s so many!


MELISSA: Yes, no question.


AMELIA: They’re all over. They’re hiding, and feeling like they can’t do it themselves because hearing people take the roles. Then they focus on something they don’t want to do.


AMELIA: If you have passion, do it, GO for it. No one’s gonna wait for you. Especially yourself.


MELISSA: Exactly.





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