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Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Rosa Lee Gallimore, Performing Artist)

9 minutes

[MUSIC PLAYING]

INTERPRETER (VOICEOVER): One thing I learned when I was in acting school at Deaf West Theater in North Hollywood, California, and they said that fear is something we all have. And one thing an actor or an artist should not have is fear to look like the fool. You should feel that, wow, it's really an awesome thing to play the part of the fool. And that's part of the artistic process. So to have fear and to take risks and accept challenges, if you don't like to do those things, and maybe this isn't the field for you. But if you're someone who likes to take risks, who likes to learn, who doesn't mind looking the fool and as long as they have a good experience, then that's the place to start. And it's a way to grow as well.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

I feel that my show is different than most shows by deaf artists and performers, because I used a lot of multimedia. I like to use film within my show. I like to include sound in my show. I like to use film as a background effect. And my show is also not concrete. It's more abstract. There is a message behind what is being communicated, and it leaves room for interpretation. So when people leave, they can think, hm, I wonder what that meant. It's nice. It's nice to see that happen.

INTERPRETER: My parents are both deaf. My mom was more of a performer than my father. My father was an author. He wrote poetry, and he was involved in music. He was more of a quiet artist and not quite as public, more internally inspired, whereas my mom was much more public, involved in many community theater productions, and I always enjoyed watching her. I think I have a lot of her in me that I try to do many things. And I think it's very natural for us.

When I really audition formally for formal theater production, that was when I was at RIT. The director for the specific play I was in was named Shanny Maw. He was the director and worked with me as I struggled with my character. And he said, well, you know, you're really a performer. You're not an actress. And I didn't understand what he said. And he said, you have more energy for the audience. You want the audience to enjoy what they're watching, rather than thinking inside of yourself and figuring out who the character is. He said I was focused more on the audience and their enjoyment. So I thought about what he said. And I thought, you know what, he is right. I am a performer. And that's when I started thinking about being a performance artist since then.

I tend to perform at conferences, schools for the deaf, colleges, also perform for interpreters and interpreting programs. I perform at festivals, ASL festivals, Deaf Awareness Week. And often the people in my audience are signers. Sometimes, every once in a while, I'll have an audience where they're all hearing, which is very challenging. But they're either usually signers, deaf people, or interpreters who understand deafness. And they'll need entertainment for Friday or Saturday nights. So those kind of events I'll go and perform. As a deaf person myself and someone who's expressing her art through deaf eyes, it's very deaf-centric. And so I found it challenging when there were hearing people in the audience who didn't know anything about deafness to understand my show. During the second and third year, I worked to add accessible items to the performance, for example, a backup voice performer, captioning. And so for the person who doesn't know anything about deafness, no, they're not going to understand completely everything. But I think they will be exposed to it, and they will see the language of ASL being a beautiful language, an artful language. And they will learn something as an observer, but definitely they won't understand everything 100%. But of course they will enjoy themselves.

It's the same for all deaf artists. We can't make money off of the deaf community. The deaf community in general is not rich. And that's not a negative or pejorative thing to say. It's just realistic. They are a minority group. So you need to have a side job or a part time job. In the regular, mainstream industry, there's money there. And so people can make a living being a full-time artist. Recently I did a show in California at the RID conference, which is the national RID, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf conference, and there are about 1,500 people in the audience. That's my largest audience ever. Generally my audiences can range up to 500, but 1,500 was the largest audience, with giant screens and a lot of production equipment. And I was very nervous to do the show. When the show was over, I got a standing ovation from 1,500 people. Imagine that. That was quite inspiring. And it really hit me. I said, ha, I've done it. So people were laughing. I saw people responding and understanding, understanding me during my show. And I left feeling that, yeah, this is why I do this. And I don't do it for the standing ovation, but I do it to make a difference, to touch people so that they feel something. And so I feel that I was touched and inspired by that moment.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

I always felt that there were two ways that you can approach your dream. One way is to start with your heart. And the other way is to start with the outward approval and how other people view you and if they're impressed or you want to impress them. And so I would say that you need to figure out why you want to perform. What is the main reason? There are a lot of different ways you can perform. And some people when I was in college got into theater because they wanted to make friends or they wanted the audience approval. They wanted to be popular. But that really wasn't true art. They didn't really think about the character and the overall message that they were sharing with the audience. That wasn't important to them. What was important to them was popularity and being seen, like they had watched performers on TV. And for those people, it was really hard to travel, because this work takes commitment, time, and energy. And people critique you. And many of them, when they got critiqued would quit immediately. So if you want to become a performer, that's great. But you have to ask your heart if you have the passion and the motivation. And if you really feel that it's important, that you could do that whether you were successful or not, if it was still important to you, then that would be a great place to start. You'll be amazed at what you find.

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In this segment, Rosa Lee Gallimore discusses her experiences as a performing artist who is deaf. She had to learn to overcome her fear of performing, and today, she is invited to perform at festivals and conferences. Part of the "Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Ambitious Achievers (Vol. 5)" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 9 minutes

Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 1
36 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 2
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 3
9 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 4
10 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 5
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 6
27 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 7
32 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 8
8 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 9
7 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 10
9 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12