is henry zaga deaf
Source: CBS

Deaf Community Members Are Boycotting CBS's 'The Stand'

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Jan. 6 2021, Updated 1:01 p.m. ET

"This has been happening for decades; enough is enough," reads a statement boycotting the CBS adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand, which is circulating on social media with the hashtag #StandAgainstTheStand.

The letter, titled "Taking a Stand Against the Stand," states that the casting of hearing actor Henry Zaga to play character Nick Andros, who is deaf, is "not acceptable."

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"We will not endorse, watch, or support your miniseries," the statement continues. "We will share our displeasure of the casting decision and airing of the miniseries on CBS All Access with our Deaf community, signing community, friends, and family of Deaf individuals; together we make up 466 million worldwide."

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Members of Hollywood's deaf community are boycotting 'The Stand.'

According to the protest letter, which was shared on Twitter by filmmaker and TV writer Jade Bryan, "not one Deaf professional actor was called in to audition for the role. The casting decision shows a massive lack of respect for Deaf professionals, and the letter states there was "no acknowledgement given to the psyche of a Deaf character," as being deaf is "more than just not hearing."

"This is not the '90s," Jade said in a separate statement to People. "Deaf artists are thriving. There are a large pool of Deaf actors who are qualified enough to play the character Nick Andros."

Jade wrote that the network failed these talented actors "because there was no casting notice which afforded them the opportunity to audition and showcase their talent for the role."

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Likewise, model, actor, executive producer, and deaf activist Nyle DiMarco voiced his displeasure at the casting decision. The America's Next Top Model winner was one of the first members of the deaf community to speak out about The Stand's casting over a year ago, back in August of 2019.

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"Two months ago @CBSTVStudios pledged to make casting more inclusive," he tweeted at the time. "CBS also committed to audition actors with disabilities. Recently they cast a hearing actor for a deaf role in The Stand." 

"Deaf actors were not given a chance to audition," he continued, rhetorically asking the network, "What promise?"

For Henry Zaga, playing Nick in 'The Stand' was "an honor."

On the other hand, actor Henry Zaga (Teen Wolf, 13 Reasons Why) shared with ComicBook.com that he tried to portray Nick's character "as truthfully and respectfully as possible." 

"I think the biggest thing we can do to portray a character like Nick is do our homework and respect, open your heart, open your mind to everything you can learn from people that have lived through those obstacles," he shared, adding that "wonderful Deaf friends" had invited him into their community "and taught me ASL."

"The Stand was an honor, just to put it lightly," he said prior in an interview with Bleeding Cool. "I learned so much from playing this character, from ASL, which is one of the most beautiful languages I could ever dream to learn. It's so expressive and so personal, too."

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