How important is support from the producers and directors?
According to John Frank Levey, casting director for The West Wing and E.R., support from the producers and directors is “hugely important”. Some directors may think it’s complicated to work out the logistics of a scene with a Deaf actor, the actor who plays her interpreter and a third character, for example. “Questions come up such as, ‘How do I set up a shot? Who becomes the focus?’ It’s a learning process. The braver the actor, the more educated we all become, the more inspired the work is, the more comfortable we become. The director then begins to realize that it’s all part of the experience and that everything that initially seems very scary becomes an opportunity if you open yourself up to it. Ultimately, we’re opened up to our commonality and to what brings us together.”
Sharon Bialy, independent casting director and producer says, “Support from the top is crucial. Stephen Herek, director of Mr. Holland’s Opus, had a very clear vision, which was extremely helpful and made it much easier to fulfill. He insisted on hiring Deaf actors for Deaf-specific roles. The whole process flowed from there.” Bialy’s experience was so positive that it resulted in her casting a Deaf actor non-traditionally in a subsequent film.