What sparked your passion for acting?
I honestly feel like I’ve been acting my whole life in the sense that gender roles exist. Very early on, I could comprehend that my body required a certain level of performativity to make other people more comfortable with the fact that I matched what I physically presented. I began the biggest performance of my life: being a girl. And to this day, I’m still hyper-aware of gender roles and how they come across. Deafness was also another gateway into acting. I often had to assimilate in a hearing environment where I grew up in central Pennsylvania.
How do you feel your role as Jericho in the DC Universe series Titans has expanded Deaf representation in the film industry?
When the opportunity for Titans came, that was the first audition I had ever done. And I never anticipated getting the role, to be honest. It’s hard for me to fully understand and digest the domino effect that it has had on the community. I feel lucky to have authentically portrayed a Deaf character, and this is a small, tiny first step. I hope this opens the door more — as other Deaf actors have been doing as well in my community — for all kinds of Deaf experiences on the continuum to come to light.
You often discuss intersectionality both online and in your work. How would you describe the impact of Deaf culture in shaping your identity?
My experience being Deaf has continuously reminded me that other perspectives exist and that the dominant public often forgets this. I’ve faced obstacles or inaccessibility at almost every turn of my life, reminded that the way I move in this world is not the way other people are told humans move. It’s also a blessing because I never forget that bodies are different. Minds are different. Human beings are so vastly different. And in this way, it has allowed me to stop making assumptions about other people’s perceptions, their emotions, and so on. And this has played a core part in shaping my identity.
Follow Chella Man on Instagram @chellaman.