Duluth Man Lands Role on TV Show Highlighting Deaf Culture

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A Duluth-raised actor who was born deaf has landed a principal role on a popular ABC Family TV show that stars a deaf lead actor and puts deaf culture in the spotlight.

Daniel Durant will play Matthew, an egotistical character who really has a way with the ladies on “Switched at Birth.” He will be featured in at least episodes 3, 5 and 6 of the series that starts up again Jan. 7. Durant was an extra on the show during the first season.

“I felt this big door open for me,” Durant said while home from Los Angeles during a break in filming. Doug Bowen-Bailey provided American Sign Language interpretation. “I feel like I’m in a dream right now; it’s such a great feeling.”

It’s a major career boost in a hard-to-navigate field for Durant, whose own background could be the plot of a dramatic series: He was raised by an aunt who now legally is his mother, and he has turned a bit of YouTube fame into a recurring role on a much buzzed-about series.

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“Switched at Birth”

“Switched at Birth” is an hourlong drama that not only stars deaf actress Katie Leclerc, it also employs supporting characters and extras who are deaf — a rarity in showbiz. A more typical scenario in the entertainment industry:

“If there is a deaf role, all the deaf actors in the world try out,” Durant said.

“Switched at Birth” centers on Daphne Vasquez, a wholesome and cheerful basketball player who lives with her alcoholic mother, who is eking out a living, and her grandmother.

Daphne lost her hearing to meningitis as a toddler. She is able to speak and read lips. In scenes that feature Daphne and her friends — usually her longtime bestie Emmett — scenes include signing and subtitles. The silence of the characters becomes more noticeable because the ambient background noise is more prominent.

Daphne was switched at birth with Bay Kennish, an artistic teen who lives in an upscale neighborhood and feels increasingly disconnected and different from her mother, father and brother.

It’s Bay who discovers the switch while working on a school project.

The two families end up coming together, which results in all sorts of complicated relationships, feelings and actions.

For the audience, the show offers a rarely seen perspective — not to mention ASL 101.

Taken from: hearing-aid-news.com

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