Lauren Ridloff at the Los Angeles Premiere Of AMC's 'The Walking Dead' Season 9

Marvel's Lauren Ridloff Highlights The Importance Of Authenticity In Deaf Storytelling

Home / Stars / Marvel's Lauren Ridloff Highlights The Importance Of Authenticity In Deaf Storytelling

By Kristin Myers on July 26, 2022 at 11:30 AM EDT

Deaf actress Lauren Ridloff starred as the first on-screen Deaf superhero Makkari in 2021's Marvel's "Eternals."

Although some fans noticed her lightning-fast speed, others noticed that she could only communicate through sign language and worked elements of the Deaf experience into her character.

When Deadline caught up to her at SDCC over the past weekend, "The Walking Dead" alum played coy when asked if she would ever return to the role.

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Lauren Ridloff Teases Whether Marvel Fans Will See More Of Makkari At SDCC

Lauren Ridloff and Marvel writer Joshua Feldman were two of the speakers at the Inevitable Foundations' "Disability Representation On and Off Screen" panel at SDCC.

“The most important thing to keep in mind when we tell stories about others, so to speak, is that authenticity should always be the goal," Ridloff told Deadline after the event. "Tell true, real stories that resonate with people with disabilities, and also people who live within the world of people with disabilities.”

She went on to say:

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“I feel like when there are only actors in front of the camera and that’s the only person with a disability that’s involved [in a project], that’s when we can get into the dangerous area of stereotyping. How do you know what kind of story you’re actually telling? Whose truth is that? The story is based on assumptions about what the ‘other’ experience might be. I think it’s so critical that we continue to push for more representation behind the camera because that’s when we actually get out of that dangerous area of stereotyping and instead tell authentic stories.”

Ridloff also discussed the importance of presenting diversity in the Marvel universe to give children a symbol of "hope."

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“I feel that just by showing the diversity of people within the Marvel world is so powerful because the MCU really is creating today’s version of mythology. That in and of itself is how we perceive Marvel—that’s how I see it, personally,” Ridloff said.

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Lauren Ridloff wins IMDb STARmeter Award
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“I think when children are watching this on the screen, they see people who are not considered the typical representation of a superhero," she continued. "Seeing people who are different gives children hope. If that person can be a superhero, that means I can be one also. I’m important. I am strong and I am powerful.”

Although Deadline asked her if she would ever reprise her role as Makkari in the MCU, Ridloff remained coy, teasing, “I would love to see more of her also. That’s all I can say.”

Marvel 'Echo' Writer Joshua Feldman Tells Hollywood Execs To 'Keep Hiring' Deaf Talent

//Alaqua Cox

Deaf writer Joshua Feldman is working as a writer in the upcoming Disney+ series "Echo," which is a spin-off series of "Hawkeye." The story will focus on Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox), the Deaf and Native American leader of the Tracksuit Mafia.

“I am lucky enough to be one of the writers on the Marvel series Echo which has a Deaf character and also plenty of characters who are not deaf,” Feldman said. “So I felt like 'Ahhhh, I can relax' because often, when I’m writing, it’s for a Deaf character and it feels like so much responsibility."

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Feldman said it was a "tremendous" responsibility "to make sure that the character is well written and well representative of our community," adding, "But it’s also fun, so don’t get me wrong. So when I’m writing, I don’t often write for hearing characters. For example, writing on Echo, when I’m not writing for a character that’s not Maya it’s so much fun because I can go wild really and be creative.”

//Lauren Ridloff
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When asked about what it was like to see Lauren Ridloff join the MCU, Feldman said, “I was already a big Marvel fan but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be watching a Deaf Marvel superhero on the big screen. It was beyond amazing."

"Working with Marvel now as a Deaf writer, it’s not only for me to have fun but to be inspired and to inspire so many in the incoming generations," he added. "Of course, we can be superheroes, too. Of course, we can.”

With the Deaf-ensemble cast scooping up the Best Picture Oscar for "CODA" earlier this year, Feldman hopes that Hollywood execs will "keep hiring us."

Alaqua Cox on the set of "Hawkeye"
Instagram / alaquacox
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“I know that when I work with a new group of individuals, it’s their first time working with a Deaf professional," Feldman told Deadline. "So, I hope that the next time that they work with a Deaf professional, they already have this as a baseline experience."

"They know an interpreter is going to be set up. They know that Deaf people are visual and we need an open line of sight at all times for communication," he continued. "Yes, keep hiring us because that’s how we learn, through experience. It’s not enough to just go to a panel, sit and listen, and take some notes. That’s not enough."

"You have to do the work," he added. "Work with us.”

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