Deaf Community Boycotts New CBS Show

'The Stand' takes heat for casting hearing actor in deaf-mute role
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2020 3:22 PM CST
The Stand Faces Boycott Over Deaf Role
Henry Zaga as Nick Andros in "The Stand."   (James Minchin/CBS)

A new CBS All Access show is garnering the wrong kind of attention after casting a hearing actor for a deaf character, per the Hollywood Reporter. Over 70 signatories have released a statement about The Stand, in which hearing actor Henry Zaga plays the deaf-mute character Nick Andros. "We will not endorse, watch, or support your miniseries on CBS All Access," the statement reads. "We will share our displeasure of the casting decision and airing of the miniseries on CBS All Access with our Deaf community, signing community, friends, and family of Deaf individuals; together we make up 466 million worldwide." Among the signatories are deaf actors including Antoinette Abbamonte (The New Normal), Dickie Hearts (Tales of the City), and James Caverly (Chicago Med).

Their letter adds that "not one Deaf professional actor was called in to audition for the role," and "the decision was made without respect to and for Deaf professionals, union and non-union alike." The role generated attention as far back as August 2019, when deaf actor and advocate Nyle DiMarco criticized the casting choice and tweeted that "Hollywood takes pride in diversity to ensure representation & authenticity ... BUT CONTINUES TO EXCLUDE people with disabilities." No official word yet from CBS, but an insider tells People that the network met Thursday with members of the deaf community behind the statement. Before the statement came out, Zaga told the Wrap he was playing the role "as respectfully and as honorably as possible" and spent a year learning American Sign Language. (More deaf people stories.)

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