Deaf U, the first docuseries of its kind, following a group of deaf students at Gallaudet University, the renowned private college in Washington, D.C., is set to premiere on Oct. 9 on Netflix.
“This project titled Deaf U really started as a perspective, a look into the deaf community and just how layered the deaf community truly is,” executive producer Nyle DiMarco said Tuesday during Netflix’s virtual Television Critics Association press tour while appearing alongside subjects Daequan Taylor, Cheyenna Clearbrook, Renate Rose and Rodney Burford. “It’s a deep dive into the deaf community.”
For many, DiMarco is most famous for winning America’s Next Top Model and Dancing With the Stars before going on to appear on shows like This Close and Station 19. In addition to producing and starring in a scripted comedy about being a deaf man in America for Spectrum, Deaf U marks his first time producing.
“The point of it all is that deaf people are human,” DiMarco continued about the importance of the 8-part series, adding: “There truly is no right way for being deaf. For audiences at home, I think that’s a major takeaway.”
For many of the participants, they saw Deaf U as an opportunity to expand the narrative surrounding deaf people and share their own real-life experiences over the course of the year-long shoot, covering two semesters at Gallaudet. “I wanted to show everyone how deaf people ‘function,’” Burford added.
For DiMarco, the project is personal to him because he also attended the university before graduating in 2013. “Having a chance to being with the cast, of course, brought back a lot of memories,” he shared.
The news for Deaf U comes after Netflix previously celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act by announcing that the release of seven “incredible real stories,” including the upcoming Deaf U and Audible, depicting people with disabilities.
The latter is a documentary short also executive produced by DiMarco about the journey of Maryland School for the Deaf high school athlete Amaree McKenstry-Hall as he and his friends finish out their senior year and grapple with the realities of venturing into a hearing world as adults. No release date for Audible has been announced.
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