October 4, 2011
By, Kate Everson
COLUMBIA — Through the sea of waving hands signing applause, Marlee Matlin could barely be seen standing at the lectern, accompanied by her interpreter, delivering her message in sign language.
“It’s all about ability,” she signed.
Matlin is a deaf Oscar-winning actress, author and activist. She spoke to a full Jesse Auditorium on Tuesday night as part of MU’s Celebrate Ability Week, sharing the story of the barriers she had to conquer to become successful. The speech was done through sign language, projected behind her as her interpreter, Jack Jason, verbalized the speech.
Matlin discussed her success in life as a way to inspire the audience to conquer their barriers. To her, “courage plus dreams equals success,” and she taught the audience how to sign the phrase.
Matlin shared a mix of upsetting and funny stories from her time in Hollywood.
Shortly after winning an Academy Award for the film “Children of a Lesser God,” film critic Rex Reed wrote that her Oscar win was the result of a pity vote and that she didn’t deserve the award because a deaf woman playing a deaf role wasn’t acting. Matlin said this was the first time she felt handicapped.