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Nyle DiMarco felt there was a ‘ceiling’ for him as a deaf actor in Hollywood

"There are so many stories out there from my community that we have to offer."

By Will Stroude

Words: Attitude staff; Images: Kit Dale

In partnership with Jaguar

Nyle DiMarco has admitted he believed there was a “ceiling” for him as a deaf actor in Hollywood – but Queer as Folk star is embracing smashing barriers as he continues to find success both on and off-screen.

Model, actor and activist Nyle, 33, opens up about the importance of deaf representation and empowering others from within his community in Attitude x Jaguar present: The Creators.

Attitude has partnered with Jaguar to amplify the stories of three queer creatives who live loudly and unapologetically in their creative fields.

Nyle was joined on location in Palm Springs, California, by fashion designer Daniel w. Fletcher and actor and singer Layton Williams as the trio discussed their personal and professional journeys and making it as out and proud queer people in their respective industries.

“Growing up, I had never seen myself represented on screen”, Nyle tells Attitude and Jagusar. “Nobody on TV was like me. Typically, any time that a deaf person was featured, it was very one-dimensional, and so as a deaf person, I felt that that was really the ceiling for me in Hollywood.

Nyle DiMarco shares his experiences in Attitude x Jaguar present: The Creators (Photography: Kit Dale)

“I was always met with this sort of yes-and-no answer, because they didn’t have any experience of deaf culture, they didn’t know about our community. They just weren’t exposed to it. And that was a moment where I really realised that I could create something, that I could make things happen for myself; not just for myself but for my own community.”

“There are so many stories out there from my community that we have to offer. I’m excited to be the one to tell them.”

 Nyle shot to fame in 2015 after winning American’s Next Top Model, before becoming the first deaf contestant to win Dancing with the Stars the following year. Since then, the former Attitude cover star has made inroads in Hollywood with roles in series such as Queer as Folk, and has executive produced a Netflix original series, Deaf U, and a documentary, Audible.

“Every single day, I wake up and I want to do something crazy, I want to do something fun, and I always want that adrenaline rush, that kick of the turbo, that booster”, Nyle explains. “My creative process and where I find inspiration and ideas really comes from finding like-minded people in the industry.”

The 33-year-old continues: “My process typically involves having an idea and looking for hearing people and other production partners who really believe in the work and want to bring different perspectives to the table.

Left-right: Layton Williams joins Daniel w. Fletcher and Nyle DiMarco in Attitude x Jaguar present: The Creators (Photography: Kit Dale)

“The stories that I want to tell always involve being curious about other people’s perspective and how other people frame the world. But I always look for partners that believe in the same thing that I do: empowering deaf people to tell their own stories authentically and bringing members of my community behind the camera. That’s what’s most important to me.

“Meeting those like-minded people, for me, is typically what inspires me even more and takes me to a place where I can develop more ideas.”

In 2016, Nyle, who was born deaf, founded The Nyle DiMarco Foundation; a non-profit organization providing access to resources for deaf children and their families. But despite recognising the support deaf people often require, he has never considered being deaf as something that has held him back.

“It’s so important to follow your own authentic truth”, he says. “I look at all of my work and I think it’s really stood for itself, all by really just being who I am. You know, that’s why I always encourage people: you have to really live inside out first to be authentic to who you are, right, and everything else will just fall into place.

Nyle DiMarco in Attitude x Jaguar present: The Creators (Photography: Kit Dale)

“I mean, if you look at my community’s history and the influence that deaf people have had on the world, I want to be able to use those things really as a catalyst to create change, but I also want to use those stories to really open the world to a wider view of deaf people.”

Nyle came out as sexually fluid in 2015, shedding some much-needed light on the intersection between the LGBTQ and deaf communities.

“Being out, as someone who is queer, has really brought me to a place of inspiration, designing who I am and designing what I like to do and what I’m passionate about”, reflects Nyle.

“It’s so nice to see people in different creative industries. I’m always curious of how people started their journey, how they’ve arrived to this point. I’m always curious about who they are and what they do.

“But you always see one sort of common theme, and it’s that, we’re out, and that there’s a moment somewhere along the journey where we really decide to become true to ourselves, and that changes everything, it’s when the success really shows up.”

For more from Attitude x Jaguar click here.