The Co-option of #DeafTalent® Movement (2012) 

The #DeafTalent® Movement, founded by first Black Deaf Filmmaker/Activist, Jade Bryan in 2012, is a social and cultural icon centralized on spreading awareness about the lack of representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) in television and film. However, Black Deaf actors, writers, producers, and Black Deaf stories are the most overlooked in getting recognition in film and television. This movement began on multiple online and real-life platforms, starting with social media. Jade Bryan created a social media platform by using Twitter and Facebook to spread awareness of the need for better representation in television and film before moving her movement to the streets.

A close-knit of Black and POC Deaf Activists from the Deaf community and actors cast in Jade Bryan’s film, The Shattered Mind, (formerly known as The Double Life of Zhane Rain), met up and campaigned in the streets. The movement lasts for several weeks from summer through the fall. New allies joined us and demonstrated peaceful assemblies with picket signs in front of the Hollywood Networks; BET, MTV, NBC, Tyler Perry Studios, CNN, HBO, and, AMC. 



The movement was also incorporated with Jade Bryan’s Kickstarter campaign to raise money for The Shattered Mind, about a Black Deaf family. From 2015-2017, The Shattered Mind film has toured 47 film festivals around the world and won 17 awards. 


Additional sources via Twitter: 

Source 1  |  Source 2  |  Source 3  |  Source 4  | Source 5

The phrase “#DeafTalent® can refer to a Twitter hashtag, a slogan, a brand, a statement, and a cultural icon. #DeafTalentsofColor, #POCDeafTalent,  #DeafTalents, #BlackDeafTalent, #LGBTQDeafTalent, and #EthnicityofDeafTalent were also coined by Jade Bryan.


During the spring of 2015, a group of white Deaf oppressors co-opted this movement to shift the focus towards themselves. What these white Deaf actors did was use the hashtag in their media advertisements and campaigns to protest hearing actors taking on Television and movie roles of Deaf characters away from Deaf people. These white oppressors took focus away from our Black and POC Deaf actors’ fight for roles and opportunities in television and film that are ironical, taken over by white Deaf actors and white hearing actors to the exclusion of Black Deaf actors and actors of color. They were more concerned about hearing people taking away acting roles from them, but they were not concerned about the lack of Black Deaf and POC Deaf roles on the screen. Their plagiarism of Jade Bryan’s hashtag movement was centered on their own single identity politics by focusing on opportunities going to white Deaf actors only. (See flyer)  

ON THE DAY (2015) THEY WERE CALLED OUT ON FACEBOOK, THEY DELETED THIS AND THE FLYER BECAUSE THEY DID NOT WANT YOU TO SEE THEM. THEY HID THE TRUTH FROM THE COMMUNITY.

It is the white oppressors’ strategy to steal from the movements of marginalized people, such as Black Deaf and POC Deaf actors, and producers for their own selfish gain without giving proper credit and acknowledgment to Jade Bryan for her #DeafTalent® movement. Systematic racism has allowed them to do it; it is violence against the work we are doing to push for more roles for Black Deaf and POC Deaf talent in Hollywood. Standing up to racism within the film and television and within the Deaf community is a political act meant to create more opportunities for Black Deaf and POC Deaf talent in those industries.


Underrepresented and marginalized people Deaf actors continue to be oppressed by being overlooked and gatekeeping them away from getting opportunities, acting work, recognition, and advancing in their own careers in film and television because of white privilege in Hollywood and the white Deaf community. There needs to be a stronger culture of inclusion alongside race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, Deafness when it comes to Black and POC Deaf talent and BIPOC writers.


In Netflix’s Deaf U, an eight-episode show follows seven main characters: four White women, two Black men, and one White man. Throughout all eight episodes, not a single Black Deaf female appeared as the main cast, except they were served as prop fillers in the background. This lack of representation extends beyond the cast. Deaf U has one hearing Black woman serving as a supervising producer. Hardly seeing ourselves represented on the screen is woefully inadequate because Black and POC and disabled people are an essential part of the human experience.


Since the inception of the #DeafTalent® movement in 2012, there has been a gradual growth of Black and POC Deaf Talent hired as writers, producers, consultants, and TV creators in Hollywood in front of and behind the camera. (See article references at the end)


During the summer of 2019, Jade Bryan filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to reclaim the hashtag trademark so no one can use it without her permission and without honoring the purpose of the hashtag. The fact that Jade Bryan is a Black Deaf woman, had to trademark her hashtag as a result of racism and misogynoir in the Deaf community. 


The purpose of the #DeafTalent® Movement is the following: 


1) to elevate the awareness of deaf talents who identify as POC, Black, and other ethnicities, including those with other intersectional identities (i.e. LGBT+), 


2) to increase the numbers of deaf talents who identify as POC, Black, and other ethnicities, including those with other intersectional identities (LGBT+) in front of and behind the camera, 


3) to eradicate discriminatory biases that lead to exclusion of Black, POC, and other ethnicities, including those with other intersectional identities (i.e. LGBT+), 


4) to promote opportunities for equal employment of deaf talents who identify as Black, POC, and other ethnicities, including those with other intersectional identities (LGBT+) in film and television.  


5) to address the misrepresentation of our work to achieve the aforementioned goals (or objectives/mission), and


6 ) to promote public awareness of the need for accessibility in entertainment.



Community Support Concerning the #DeafTalent® Hashtag


The History of #BlackDeafTalent, #POCDeafTalent, and #BlackDeafFilms. How the movement has started.  #BetterDeafCommunity by Maisha Franklin-Safford Source: (Facebook) 


Meet the Deaf Filmmaker who started a movement

Source: (Ai-Media)


Open Letter to Convo by Maisha Franklin-Safford 

Source: (Facebook)


Salt and Pepper Analogy by activist, Antines Davis

Source: (Facebook)


Reggie Bess called out Regan Thibodeau, a white deaf oppressor. 

He explained why Black people (hearing/deaf) don’t often get enough recognition for their work in an array of fields. Source: (Facebook)


Quote and statements by supporter from the Deaf Community.


Black Deaf People are brilliant creative thinkers by activist, Adrienne Brown Gravish 

Source: (Facebook)


Deaf Actor, James T. McGowan's platform regarding #DeafTalent® Movement 

Source: (Facebook)


Deaf Filmmaker, Martha Anger's platform regarding #DeafTalent® Movement



The Rise of Black & POC Deaf Talent in Film, Television & Theater



Black Deaf Actor, On Black Lightning, Season Two! Interview With Warren Snipe

Source:  (Krip Hop Nation)


Deaf Actor Wawa lands role in CW series "Black Lightning" (ASL - 8.26.18) Sign 1 News

Source: Sign1News (YouTube) 


One of the most emotional moments on 'The Walking Dead's' season premiere is inspired by a star's progressive hearing loss and a line her mother told her

Source: (Insider)


The Truth About Angel Theory

Source: (The Netline) 


Find talented individuals represented by Bloc New York City.

Source: (Bloc Agency)


Lauren Ridloff’s Quiet Power: ‘My Life Has Changed in Every Way’

Source: (NYTimes)


Why Everyone's Talking About Lauren Ridloff, Marvel's First Deaf Superhero

Source: (Oprah Mag)


CJ Jones

Source: (Ability Magazine)


Faces Behind the Screen: CJ Jones

Source: (3 Pay Media)


‘Baby Driver’ And ‘Avatar 2’ Actor CJ Jones Tells Hollywood That Disabled Are Able To Tell Their Own Stories – CAA Amplify   Source: (Deadline)


An Interview with CJ Jones, the Deaf Actor in the Hot New Movie ‘Baby Driver’

Source: (Haben Girma)


CJ Jones: Stay Inspired and Be Authentic

Source: (Respectability) 


Treshelle M. Edmond On Making History As A Deaf Performer On Broadway

Source: (Okay Player) 


'My Face Is My Voice': A Deaf Dancer Lands Her Dream Role

Source: (NYTimes)


‘Titans’: Chella Man Cast As Jericho For DC Universe Series

Source: (Deadline) 


Deaf, Transgender Artist Chella Man Will Play Jericho in DC's 'Titans'

Source: (Men's Health) 


Breaking News: Chella Man Joins the Cast of Titans as Jericho

Source: (DC Comics)


Deaf, Gay, and A-OK: Nothing's gonna kill Dickie Hearts' Pride vibe!

Source: (Queerty Pride)


EasterSeals Disability Film Challenge: Winner Dickie Hearts

Source: (Disability Film Challenge)


Deaflix - A Deaf Streaming Platform for Deaf Viewers created by Fred Beam

Source: (Deaflix) 


Deaf people the Month - Fred Beam

Source: (Deaf People)


Faces Behind the Screen: Deafies in Drag

Source: (3 Play Media) 


Meet Deafies in Drag: YouTube's Deaf, Latino Comedy Duo

Source: (Out Magazine)


Natasha Ofili Is the Principal in The Politician—and She's Breaking Barriers for Deaf Actors. Source: (Oprah Mag)


Unstoppable: Deaf Actress Natasha Ofili Is Inspiring The World About What Can Be Accomplished With Sheer Determination  Source: (Medium Magazine)


Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales talks to Hailey Cooper in Sign Language

Source: (YouTube)


Meet the actress blazing a sign-language trail in new ‘Spider-Man’ video game Source (LATimes)

Michelle Banks: First Black Deaf Actress 

Source: (Howl Round)


Exclusive Interview with Maleni Chaitoo

Source: (Silent Grapevine)


“Screw What Other People Think” With Documentary Filmmaker, Eli Steele


Q & A | Black, deaf, and Jewish filmmaker Eli Steele is challenging how we view race. 

Source: (Forward)

ARTICLES ABOUT JADE'S WORK

Why “Deaf U” Needs to Relook at their Attempt to Represent the Deaf Community  

‘In “Deaf U,” we only see a few Black deaf women as props. ’
Source: (ResetFest)

Diversity, Inclusion, Sustainability, and Politics Dominate The First Weekend of Sundance Source: (The Source)

Black Deaf Women Are Invisible on Netflix’s Deaf U, and That's Just Part of the Problem by Jade Bryan. Source: (PopSugar)

Black, Deaf women are missing from Netflix’s ‘Deaf U.’ Critics say it’s ‘misleading and dangerous.’

For many mainstream audiences, the show is their first introduction to Deaf culture

Source: (The Lily -Wapo)


What Deaf U Got Wrong, According to Deaf Viewers

While Deaf U is a fun and important look into the lives of deaf students, many deaf viewers want a lot more when it comes to representation. Source: (Screenrant)


Ep 70: Black Deaf Filmmakers

Source (Disability Visibility Project)


Jade Bryan On the Challenges the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Face in Film | Tomorrow Will Be Televised

Video Interview with the (BRICTV)


Indiegogo: Ann Marie Bryan on The Shattered Mind

Source: Filmmaker Magazine


Film Review, If You Could Hear My Own Tune

Source: (Film Threat) 


If You Could Hear My Own Tune 

Source: (The Patch)


Being Jade Bryan “The Shattered Mind” by Liz Belilovskaya 

Source: (Untitled Magazine)


Don't Ignore the Black and Deaf: Why Police Violence Is a Huge Danger and Other Ways the Community Is Marginalized Source: (The Root)


2015 AIFF Q&A with filmmaker of Shattered Mind

Source: (Youtube)


Deaf Film-Maker Breaks Barriers

Source: (Jamaica Gleamer)


The Shattered Mind: Supporting Black Deaf Culture in Film 

Source: (AfroPunk) 


First Feature Film About Black Deaf Culture

Source: (MICA Scoop)


9/11 Fear in Silence: The Forgotten Underdogs

Source: (Amazon Prime)


Annually HOJ Deaf Club recognizes and and honors the accomplishments of Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals who in their own way support the ideals of the National Action Network.  Source: (HOJ Deaf Culb)


MICA Runway is Among Finalists on Tyra Banks Show (Created & Produced by Jade Bryan  Source: (PR Web) 



JADE BRYAN, THE FIRST BLACK DEAF, AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKER SINCE 1989. 

Jade's work on IMDb | 2015-2017 Awards | CurriculumVitae (CV) | Website 

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