“I firmly believed that we were bringing a wide variety of talent into the community – and not just race. [but also] sexual orientation, gender and educational background, but also language use ”, signed the former actor of“ America’s Next Top Model ”and“ Dancing With the Stars ”during the panel“ The Making of ‘Deaf U’ ”organized by Gallaudet University on Tuesday. “We didn’t want the Deaf community to be seen essentially as a monolith. There are so many students who come to college with no experience in sign language or deaf culture, and we really wanted to frame that nuance of our community. ”
Behind the camera, DiMarco also hopes to open doors for creatives who are deaf and want to get into the entertainment industry too. As the only producer who is deaf on “Deaf U”, he urged that at least 30% of the crew members from this community be employed.
The show’s cast and creative team came together during the event to reflect on the experiences of filming the “Docu-Soap” – from the casting to organizing the daily debriefings on set to produce a reality series with care and respect.
Producer Naimah Holmes echoed DiMarco’s passion for a three-dimensional representation of the deaf community, but added that finding students willing to save their time and be vulnerable on camera was a challenge for the creative team. She said they did not want to “force the” handful “of black women who applied as part of the first season into the group based on the need for diversity as a sign. With the positive feedback from the first season, she hopes that more women will apply in color when Netflix lights up a second season in green.
A limited time frame to capture the daily life of the Gallaudet students in season one resulted in the episodes being 20 to 30 minutes long. However, producers showed an interest in delivering more content – both with this show and beyond. DiMarco teased another upcoming series he has in the works, saying, “This is just the beginning. My goal is the same as what we created with ‘Deaf U’ – to empower deaf creatives in the entertainment industry and to further increase the representation. ”
Actress Alexa Paulay-Simmons recalled her friends encouraging her to take the opportunity when a production employee contacted her on campus. She stated that she is grateful for an experience that she now refers to as “free therapy sessions,” which allowed her to reflect on herself and have a more positive relationship with her father.
Daequan Taylor signed that after a brief interview with a producer, he was asked to join the cast because he was “so raw and real”.
When asked for his comment, “I have a dream that black men will be with white women,” Taylor took a moment to apologize for his behavior on the show. “I really want to apologize and apologize to my black community and everyone I have offended by saying this,” he said. “I know what we’re doing now with Black Lives Matter and what the world is like now – it was the wrong time to say this comment and make it public for the world.”
Take a look at the panel below.