"Switched at Birth" Star Sean Berdy Talks Deafness

A Q&A With the Rising Deaf Actor

Sean Berdy, "Emmett". Sean Berdy

Actor Sean Berdy's breakout role on the Freeform (formerly ABC Family) drama "Switched at Birth" has scored him legions of fans and helped shed more light on the deaf community. He stars as Emmett Bledsoe, the deaf friend of Daphne Vasquez, played by Katie Leclerc. In this email interview that took place in 2011 right after the show first premiered, Berdy divulges about the show, his career, and his deafness.

Question: Your bio says you got started as a little boy giving performances for your family. What was it you saw or experienced as a little boy that made you want to perform?

Answer: To be frank, there is nothing that I saw or experienced that influenced my motivation to perform or act. It is a passion when I was born since day one. Acting is something incredible for me to give out my authentic entertainment for the viewers. It's a great desire to keep all those dreams together and to achieve it.

Q: You were born deaf. Your brother and parents are also deaf. Do you know what the genetic cause of your deafness is?

A: Yes, I came from a deaf family. My parents, my brother and I were born deaf due to no genetic cause.

Q: What are your other interests besides acting?

A: I have so many interests besides acting that keep my mind running. I love having fun and laughing as much as I can. I love to bring my jokes, stories to families and friends.

I love to entertain people in every way I can do. Dancing is one of my other favorite things to do as I dance around the house consistently with a big loud sound system which contains speakers and a subwoofer. The whole house is shaking and some things may fall! When I'm in town to visit my family, I always dance right in front of the television blocking my mom [from watching TV], and yet she enjoys [it].

Also, I love photography and modeling. To capture an amazing still picture is fascinating. I also do graphic design with my Adobe CS5 premium and been doing it since I was a young boy. And, I do make film projects independently and with friends and have them edited in Final Cut Pro. There are more, including paintball, golf, cooking.

Q: When were you named Mr. Deaf Teen America? Can you tell more about that?

A: I was named as Mr. Deaf Teen America 2010 which I competed against ten deaf schools with my female partner. We almost swept all awards including Best Talent, Best Platform, Best Formal Wear.

Q: What are the similarities between your character, Emmett, in "Switched at Birth" and yourself? The differences?

A: The similarities between my character, Emmett, in "Switched at Birth" and myself are [that we are] solely full deaf and use American Sign Language. We have the same interest in photography. The difference is Emmett is a deaf James Dean type and speaks for himself bluntly in any type of situation. He doesn't really care and tends to make up his own mind. I am completely opposite to the character I portrayed. I'm just a guy who has so much love and care for everyone.

Q: I know that you got the job on "Switched at Birth" because producers were looking for a "deaf James Dean." Do you feel that you deserve that moniker?

A: Yes, I know the producers were looking for a deaf James Dean and I sure felt I deserve the moniker. I even analyze him on YouTube and read numerous of articles and stories. It's tremendously fun to evaluate myself to have some James Dean [characterization] on the show.

Q: Before you came to "Switched at Birth", you had already had roles in a few films, including deaf films. Your "hearing" films included "The Sandlot 2" (2005), in which you play a deaf brother nicknamed "Fingers". Your deaf film roles included "The Legend of the Mountain Man" (2008) and "The Deaf Family" (2008). Now that you have been noticed in "Switched at Birth," are you getting more offers to act in hearing or deaf films?

A: Yes, I received tons of role offers and others. Right now, I'm going through all of them and see what I can give the audience in the future.

Q: You've accomplished a lot for an 18-year-old. Do you see yourself as having a future as a "deaf star" in the deaf world, or as a "deaf star" in the hearing world?

A: It's a nice compliment that I accomplished a lot for an eighteen-year-old. I believe it will be the best if I am a deaf star in both worlds, deaf and hearing communities. It's best for both worlds.

Q: Your bio says you are a comedian and live performer working on a one-man show, "The Sean Berdy Show."

A: Today, I am developing my new superlative one man show called "The Sean Berdy Show" that will bring my comedy standup, life stories, storytelling, skits and performance to life. The show is entirely in American Sign Language. I would be performing for deaf audiences and eventually, hearing audiences too.

Q: You've immediately become known as a teenage "hottie." Have any of the teen magazines approached you yet to be on their covers?

A: I would smile every time when I was told that I have become known as a teenage "hottie." It is a nice compliment and remark that the fans said. I was recently nominated by Teen Choice Awards for TV Breakout Star which is a great honor to receive. It will air on August 7th, 2011 on FOX Channel.

Q: On "Switched at Birth" you get to work with Marlee Matlin. Will you and Marlee be together in any other projects, acting or otherwise?

A: On "Switched at Birth," I get to work with Marlee Matlin and she's fantastic. I love her and we have the perfect chemistry together on set. I'm pretty sure that someday we will work together again and that's something to look forward to.

"Switched at Birth" will premiere its fifth and final season in 2017 on Freeform. Until then, deaf and hearing fans can catch Sean Berdy as Emmett Bledsoe by watching full episodes of the show on Hulu.com and freeform.go.com.

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