Marlee Matlin stated today at the Sundance Film Festival that the casting of deaf Native American actress Alaqua Cox as Marvel superhero Echo, aka Maya Lopez, represents progress in Hollywood that is still a major barrier for diverse talent, but that much more has to be done.
The trailblazing Oscar winner actor was scheduled to attend on a diverse panel alongside Randell Park and others at the Park City festival in 2020. He starred in the Oscar-winning film Coda, which had its world premiere at Sundance.
Maya made an appearance in Disney+‘s Hawkeye, and the service is planning to launch her own series based on her character in 2023.
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Matlin claims that she was recently passed over for the role of a judge in a courtroom series because producers are still reluctant to pay interpreters or introduce them as an on-screen presence.
She said on the Sundance panel “The Big Conversation: Complicating Representation” that “You cannot play deafness as a costume.” Still, “We are moving ahead,” she affirmed. “There are deaf actors out there, there are deaf writers out there, there are deaf directors. I became a director.”
In other words, I went on to become a director. Fox will air Sony’s Accused, in which the Best Actress Oscar winner for Children of a Lesser God will make her directorial debut. Taika Waititi has been called “a true game changer for indigenous filmmakers” by Inuit filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril of the Canadian Arctic.
I’m not shy and I have no trouble starting conversations. She stated, “The Taika impact is real,” referring to the Mori-born director and writer of films including Reservation Dogs, Jojo Rabbit, and Thor: Love and Thunder. “It’s still harder for people like me to sell shows, but it’s not like ‘What?’”
Sundance Film Festival first-time feature filmmaker Randall Park, whose film Shortcomings is premiering there this year, emphasized the importance of such events for amplifying underrepresented viewpoints. “Asia American film festivals are a big part of my life and my acting career. I got to play so many different kinds of [parts] and got to see them with an audience because of those festivals.”
The actor (Fresh Off the Boat, Aquaman, Always Be My Maybe) wished things would go more quickly. As one critic put it after seeing Better Luck Tomorrow at Sundance: “it was like, this is going to change the industry. It didn’t,” A group of ambitious East Asian American high school seniors in Justin Lin’s 2002 crime drama.
“I don’t trust the powers that be so much, but I do feel that we’re making a difference, and, over time, my hope is we don’t have to have a panel about representation. Because I have talked about it. It has kind of defined my working career in a lot of ways, and I think it’s great and it’s an honor to be able to represent that. But you know, there is so much more to what we do.”
A producer on Transparent and This Is Me as well as the director of HBO’s The Lady and the Vale, Zackary Drucker is also an artist and transgender activist. I think a lot of people can relate to that,” she remarked. “Once you get your foot in the door, you just kick it wide open and bring everybody in.”
The importance of work should be maintained at all costs, according to Drucker. There are two types of projects: those with institutional backing and those where the team says, “Work matters, no matter what, by whatever means necessary.”
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