Heba Toulan

Heba Toulan

Light skinned woman with brown hair pushed past her shoulders wearing a white button down shirt and a denim jacket smiling at the camera.

My struggles are unique, and oblivious to others as I am Deaf. I communicate primarily in American Sign Language (ASL), along with some lip reading (which is NOT even 50% effective, even though it helps) and using my voice. I cannot tell you how many times I have been turned away because of my unique communication mode without an opportunity to showcase my talent. I’ve been a stage kid all my life, having performed at the George Washington University, Wolf Trap Park, Cairo Opera House, and more. These barriers continue to this day, every time I submit a resume/headshot, I was met with either, “we are not looking for a signer,” or “do you know this role is not for a Deaf person?” Once I went to an audition, and waited 2 hours to be called back, only to be questioned whether I could perform on the stage or not. Never mind that I held a number of roles which was clearly recorded on my resume. That incident left me speechless, and it was truly frustrating. I felt my confidence breaking down, and the only thing that kept me going was the support from my theater community and friends/family. I continue to try to break down barriers by going to all the auditions as much as I can, and do my best when I am called on the stage. The stage does not discriminate, and shouldn’t the industry do the same?

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