Netflix released The Society this Friday (May 10), with many fans already falling in love with the wholesome, gay and deaf character Sam Eliot (played by Sean Berdy). Sean Berdy is deaf in real life and has often spoken about representing the hearing-impaired community on screen. The Society star has also spoken about the work the cast of the Netflix series put in to learning American Sign Language (ASL).
Is Sean Berdy deaf in real life?
According to a TV Guide article about Berdy’s breakthrough role in Switched at Birth: “Berdy has been deaf since birth and grew up in a deaf household.”
However, he told Time: “Sam’s story doesn’t exactly parallel my life because I’ve always been able to hear a little bit—and I can pretty much hear sounds with a hearing aid. I love music.
“I consider myself bilingual: my first language is ASL but I do have the ability to speak.
In The Society, Sam’s closest friends like Becca Gelb (Gideon Adlon) and Gordie (Jose Julian) have taught themselves the language to better communicate with Sam.
WHERE IS THE SOCIETY FILMED?Sean Berdy, who plays Sam Eliot in The Society, is deaf (Image: NETFLIX)
In the Netflix series, Sam’s boyfriend Grizz (Jack Mulhern) also starts to learn ASL after first reading up on British Sign Language (BSL) by accident.
Speaking to Time, Berdy said at the start of filming the series: “They [the cast of The Society] literally knew not one sign.
“We had an ASL coach on set who was responsible for teaching the lines in sign language to the cast.
“They had to have lessons during their free time and sometimes had to work extra over the weekends.
He particularly praised Becca actress Gideon Adlon, saying: "I admire Gideon so much.
HOW MANY EPISODES ARE IN THE SOCIETY?Sean Berdy has spoken about the importance of deaf representation in series such as The Society (Image: NETFLIX)
“She showed up cold and impressed me with how motivated she was to learn the language.
“Basically for each episode, she had a week-and-a-half or two weeks max to learn all her lines in sign language believably. That’s a lot of pressure—and she nailed it every time.”
In the interview, the actor also praised Hollywood in general for telling more stories featuring deaf characters.
He said: “I can say that Hollywood has recognized ASL finally.
THE SOCIETY NETFLIX RELEASE DATE, CAST, TRAILER, PLOTDeaf actor Sean Berdy previously starred in Switched at Birth (Image: ABC)
“Two recent movies, The Shape of Water and A Quiet Place, were both beautiful movies featuring sign language in different ways.”
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal about why deaf representation matters, he said: “You really understand that there's more than just a deaf person who happens to move their hands.
“There's a language, there's a culture, there's relationships between deaf people, deaf people and hearing people, there are obstacles, there is happiness and joy."
The Society is streaming on Netflix now
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