Interview Opportunity Available with Deaf Out Loud Executive Producer Jonathan Murray
Washington, D.C., July 29 – Following on the heels of the critically acclaimed award-winning original docuseries Born This Way, A&E Network will be debuting Deaf Out Loud in September. A documentary special, Deaf Out Loud follows the lives of three predominantly deaf families who utilize different communication modalities in everyday life.
Executive Producer Jonathan Murray will be showing a sneak preview of the trailer at a summit on Capitol Hill on Monday, July 30 while moderating the panel “Fighting Implicit Bias Through TV and Film.” Panelists include Jeanette Betancourt, SVP, U.S. Social Impact of Sesame Workshop; Crystal R. Emery, who directed Black Women in Medicine; and Rachel Dretzin and Andrew Solomon, director and author of Far From The Tree. The summit, “From Washington to Hollywood and Beyond: The Future of Americans with Disabilities,” is being presented by RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with all disabilities. Murray serves on RespectAbility’s Board of Directors. Interview opportunities with Murray, who created MTV’s The Real World, and produces A&E’s Born This Way, are available during the conference.
Misconceptions exist about deaf individuals – from schooling, to employment and raising a family. Shows like Deaf Out Loud aim to change these misperceptions and has the potential to bring awareness and better understanding about people who are deaf. This show delves into the various ways Deaf culture is expressed and embraced in the United States. The three families will show viewers the diversity of Deaf culture today, and how it differs from hearing cultures.
“People with disabilities need to see positive representations of themselves, both as people with satisfying personal lives and as people who can perform successfully in the workplace,” Murray said. “Those positive images will change for the better the way the greater society sees people with disabilities, opening up more opportunities for them.”
As with representation of people with all types of disabilities, Deaf individuals are underrepresented in television and film. There are some good examples, however. Among them are Quantico, featuring Marlee Matlin, who is also an executive producer on Deaf Out Loud; The Silent Child, showcasing the talents of six-year-old Maisie Sly, who uses British sign language; Baby Driver, with a moving performance by the African-American deaf actor C.J. Jones; and Wonderstruck in which deaf newcomer Millicent Simmonds astonished critics and audiences with a magnificent, visually expressive performance.
Deaf film producer Delbert Whetter explained the importance of using authentic deaf actors in a piece for The Hollywood Reporter. “Sign language has tremendous cinematic properties, with unique and complex forms of inflection, intonation and pitch that can take years to master but can amplify and deepen performances in ways accessible to all audiences,” he wrote. Whetter also is available for in-person interviews at the summit.
RespectAbility’s conference also features Deaf advocate Kaity Hagen, who will be speaking as part of the “Importance of Intersectionality: Enabling People of Color and Immigrants with Disabilities to Succeed” panel. She will be speaking alongside Stepahnie Farfan, an alumna of RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program and Clarence Page, Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist for The Chicago Tribune. Donna Walton, founder and president of The Divas With Disabilities Project, will moderate this panel.
The event will be taking place in the Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. Breakfast starts at 8:00 a.m. with formal remarks beginning at 9:00 a.m. The full conference agenda (all open to the press) is available on RespectAbility’s website here: https://www.respectability.org/Summit2018/. Space is extremely limited and RSVPs are required.
Deaf Out Loud is produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, with Murray, Gil Goldschein, Laura Korkoian, Matlin and Jack Jason as the executive producers. Executive producers for A&E Network are Elaine Frontain Bryant, Shelly Tatro and Jeana Dill.