Hollywood Films & Deaf Films:
Past, Present, and Future

Los Angeles

California State University, Northridge
April 7-9, 2005

Home Vision Statement Program
Biography Tickets & Contact



Wayne Betts Jr.
Bernard Bragg
Gregg Brooks
Julianna Fjeld
Yoon Lee
Daniele LeRose
Arthur Luhn
John S. Schuchman
Howie Seago
René Visco
Peter Wolf

Onisha Blagdon

Ongoing Construction
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Betts Jr., Wayne

     Wayne Betts, Jr. was born deaf.  In 1983, at the age of 2, he saw the movie "E.T." and felt certain that he should
become a movie director, so powerful was the impact that the movie had on him.  Wayne went on a long academic
journey of his own first, starting at American School for the Deaf, then transferring to North Carolina School for
the Deaf, then it was onto Austine School for the Deaf before returning to and graduating from the American
School for the Deaf.  Next stop was Gallaudet University, where he studied Television, Film and Photography
for a year before transferring to Rochester Institution of Technology's School of Film and Animation.  Wayne
was drawn away from his studies by the lure of applying his by now extensive knowledge, still possessing that
original desire to create visual projects that might impact others.  He is a Media Specialist for HOVRS (Hands
on Services that are responsible for Video Relay Services), and his responsibilities encompass just about anything
pertaining to video and graphic design.  This year Wayne, in partnership with RIT alum Chad Taylor, formed
Mösduex, a multimedia production company.  Busy with his work, he still manages to find time to watch E.T.,
now on DVD.



Blagdon, Onisha

    Trishmonisha Blagdon, known as Onisha to all her friends and acquaintances, became profoundly deaf from
spinal meningitis at the age of two.  Her love for movies began after watching "E.T."  Ever since, video rentals
and afternoon matinees have become a part of almost every weekend.  When she was a senior in high school,
she made her first film, titled "Don't Make Drugs Your Choice," and it was aired on a local cable channel. 
Upon graduation from University High School, she attended Golden West College.  She applied to transfer
to UCLA and was denied, and applied again the following year and achieved admittance.
    While attending UCLA's School of Film and Television, Onisha benefitted from the experience of a two-year
internship with New Line Cinema, where she was fortunate to work with Sara Risher, a producer of the
"Nightmare on Elm Street" movie series.  She graduated from UCLA in 2002 and started two production
companies -- Heaven Dragon Pictures and Deaf Everyday.
    Currently she is working on a DVD project for both home and educational use in collaboration with X-Factor,
another production company.  She plans to apply to USC Peter Stark Producer's Program in the future.


Bragg, Bernard

    An accomplished actor, director, playwright and lecturer, Bernard Bragg has trekked around the globe for forty
years beginning in 1956 when he studied with Marcel Marceau in Paris upon his invitation.   In the 1960s, he
played an instrumental role during the formative years of the National Theatre of the Deaf  (NTD), contributing
as a leading actor, administrator, and sign master for ten  years.   He has written numerous articles and several
books related to theatre and signed arts.  Among his many national and international awards, Dr.  Bragg was
awarded an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Gallaudet  University in recognition of his extraordinary
service to deaf people of the world in  theatre, education and communication.   He also received a special Lifetime
Achievement Award from the World Federation of the Deaf for his global leadership in theatre arts.   A resident
of California, Dr. Bragg continues to enjoy painting, traveling and giving one-man shows. Currently, he is deeply
involved in digital filmmaking – a new chapter in his long life.



Brooks, Gregg

    Working in the Hollywood film and television industry both in front of cameras and behind the scenes for nearly
40 years is quite an accomplishment for Gregg Brooks, who was born deaf in Northern California.  He is one of a
small group of deaf individuals who has steadily worked in Hollywood.  Upon his graduation from Gallaudet
University in 1965, he landed his first job as the book cataloguer at the Walt Disney Studios' library, then went
on to Hanna Barbera and RKO Pictures before moving to Paramount Pictures Corporation, where he has worked
since 1987as an archivist.
    All the while, Gregg has had several side jobs such as newscaster at the Theta Cable TV in Santa Monica, for
which he won an Emmy Award.  He attended the American Film Institute to study producing, and he was given an
opportunity to direct two of his own videotapes. He was the consultant on several TV shows, such as "James at 15,"
where he utilized deaf actors.
    Gregg is also an accomplished actor, performing at the Deaf West Theater twice, as well as in a number of other
plays over the years.  In true film noir fashion, Gregg relies on classic black and white to keep him out of trouble,
in the form of his two canine companions, Licorice (a black Pug with white paws) and Moo (a black and white Boston
    A note of interest - In the 1958 production of "Around the World in 80 Days" at the California School for the Deaf
in Berkeley, not only did Gregg have the lead role as Phileas Fogg, but he also enjoyed the experience of working
on the play alongside stage great Bernard Bragg.


Fjeld, Julianna

    Currently living in Ventura, California, Julianna Fjeld has been an accomplished deaf actress, director and producer. 
She is a former member and co-artistic director of the National Theatre of the Deaf, with which she toured for five
years. Ms. Fjeld was also one of the early pioneers making mainstream hearing theatre accessible to the deaf through
her role as Coordinator of Project DATE (Deaf Audience Theatre Experience) at the Mark Taper Forum in Los
    She served as a consultant to the production of Children of A Lesser God at the Taper and on Broadway,
where she also understudied and performed the lead role of Sarah Norman.  She has been featured in a number of
stage and television productions including Dallas, CBS and NBC Movie of the Week, The Trojan Women, A Christmas
Carol, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire.  Most recently she was seen as Luka in Lower Depths
at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre. One of the most significant, Ms. Fjeld was the Co-Executive
Producer of the Emmy-Award winning Hallmark Hall of Fame/Marian Rees Associates/NBC production, Love Is
Never Silent, the first TV movie to feature deaf actorsin lead roles.
    She is currently giving something back to the community bybeing Regional Director of Tri-County Greater Los
Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD), a branch here in Ventura.


                                                    photo: Cesar Ayala

Lee, Yoon

    A successful filmmaker, Yoon Lee has now begun a new chapter in his career; he is teaching high school students
art of filmmaking at CA School for the Deaf, Riverside. Under his tutelage, students produce monthly “Paws TV”
broadcasts utilizing digital technology. Yoon Lee recently filmed, directed and edited his first movie “No Talking
Allowed” with CSD, South Dakota. As Director of Broadcasting at CSD, he produced monthly shows for www.csd.tv.
    Following a tour of China, he produced the documentary, “Deaf People of China”. Yoon Lee had started his own
company, United Hand Production, and in 1999 was Director of Photography for the program, “See What I Mean”
by Anny Mindess and Tom Holcomb. www.treehousevideo.com
as the Director of the Video Department at Dawn Sign Press  for five wonderful years, Yoon Lee produced
and directed numerous educational videos, including, “Tomorrow Dad Still Deaf”, “Number Signs for
and “Signing Naturally Level 3”. In addition, he built a TV Studio and Editing Studio for Dawn Sign
    As a student at both CSUN and Gallaudet (B.A., TV, Film and Photography, 1990), he had the opportunity to
on the documentary, “Los Angeles Club for the Deaf” at Beyond Sound in Hollywood, and the Emmy Award
program, “Deaf Mosaic”, as production assistant to Mary Lou Novitsky and Gil Eastman. In addition, he
was Student
Press Photographer for the “Deaf President Now Movement”, as well as the host for the 30 minute program, “Last
Frontier – Alaska”. Today, he is busy with the upcoming, “1st Annual Paws Movie Night” at CSDR on May 19th,
featuring short movies produced by his new students…See you there!


Lerose, Daniele

    Daniele Le Rose was born into a deaf family in Cassano all’Ionio, near Cosenza, Italy in 1976. Upon high school
graduation, the Mason Perkins Deafness Fund awarded him a scholarship with the Fulbright Commission. He
attended Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., where he took a course in Television and Film Production that
set him on his path.
    Daniele was involved in founding LightKitchen, a production group supporting video and film of Deaf Filmmakers,
focusing on the visual arts relating to Deaf Culture. Among the more than dozen shorts he produced with LighKitchen
are "NYC 24 Hours" (2001) and “Dewdrop of Comfort” (2001), which he also directed.
    Daniele returned to Italy, earning a degree in Cinematography at the New University for Cinema and Television
in Rome, and then established DeafMedia, his own production company whose goal was to develop Deaf Cinema in
Italy as well as offer video production services for deaf and hearing customers alike.  Collabroating with Ente
Nazionale Sordomuti - Arezzo province, Daniele arranged and hosted the very first Deaf Italian movie festival,
"Deaf Cinema Day" in Arezzo, Italy which resulted in his second DVD production, "Cortometraggi - Collection
of Short Deaf Movies".
    Today he lives in Padova, Italy, and his latest feature movie, “Dietro il mondo 2” (DeafMedia, 2005), a fiction
depicting the everyday life for Deaf students in Padova, where they only recently began to attend university, is
currently in post-production.



Luhn, Arthur

    Arthur Luhn, hails from Aspen, Colorado where he was born. Arthur, who was born deaf, and whose first language
is ASL, lived in Vermont until he went to college in Boston.
     For a while, he ran a construction company before he was drawn back to film, something he has had dabbled in
for all of his life. He started up Eyethfilms in 2000 with four short films and finished Eyethfilm’s first full-length
feature film, The Golden Legacy, in 2003. The success of The Golden Legacy prompted Arthur, along with Noah
Lydiard and Jon Carlson, to found NIEVA in 2004 as a non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of
American Sign Language in cinematic form. In his spare time, Arthur enjoys reading, sailing, karate, and hatha yoga.



Schuchman, John S.

A child of deaf parents, Schuchman has been very active in the deaf community for many years and taught at
Gallaudet University since 1967.  Serving as Dean, Vice President, and Provost for fourteen years, Schuchman
resumed teaching and research responsibilities in 1985.  In 1991, he received Gallaudet’s “Distinguished
Faculty” award.  Named Professor Emeritus, Schuchman retired in 1999, however, he continues to write,
lecture, and consult as a partner in BJS Associates.
    Schuchman turned his attention to history of the deaf community in 1981 when he developed videotaped
oral history interview techniques for use with deaf persons who use sign language.   This work has been of
interest to both oral historians and to historians of the deaf community.  A description of this work appears
in: “Oral History and Deaf Heritage:  Theory and Case Studies,” in Renate Fischer and Harlan Lane, eds.,
“Looking Back, A Reader on the History of Deaf Communities and Their Sign Languages.”
    Schuchman published the first book to describe disability and film/television:  “Hollywood Speaks,
Deafness and the Film Entertainment Industry.”  In the summer of 1991, Schuchman organized and served
as program chair for the First International Conference on Deaf History in Washington, DC.   Also with
his colleague Professor Donna Ryan, he, as a program co-chairman, organized a conference on the
Holocaust, “Deaf People in Hitler’s Europe, 1933-1945” in cooperation with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial
Museum in Washington, DC, June 21-24, 1998.  He is co-author/editor of the analogy, “Deaf Peoplle in
Hitler’s Europe.”
    Internationally, Schuchman has lectured about his current research on the holocaust and deafness in
London, Toronto, Budapest, Copenhagen, and Stockholm.  He has lectured at the Mueseum of the Moving
Image and the National Film Theatre in London at at film festivals on deafness in Newcastle, England,
the University of Wolverhampton, the Danish Film Institute, and in Stockholm, Sweden, as well as
universities in the United States.


Seago, Howie

    Howie Seago's professional credits include acting, directing, producing and teaching theatre arts for over 25 years. 
He appeared in a featured role in "Beyond Silence", a German film that was nominated for an Academy Award in
the Best Foreign Film category in 1998.  His television credits include Star Trek: The Next Generation, Hunter and
The Equalizer.  Howie has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the La Jolla Playhouse, Off
Broadway and in international tours.  He performed leading roles in Peter Sellars' productions of Ajax and The
Persions, and with the National Theatre of the Deaf.  His acting work has been recognized through several awards,
including the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actor and the Dramalogue Award.

    Howie Seago has made an impression on both audiences and readers alike.  He is featured in a number of published
works, including "Actors' Lives - On and Off the American Stage" Holly Hill (Theatre Communications Group, 1993);
"Chronicles of Courage: Very Special Artists" Jean Kennedy Smith and George Plimpton (Random House, 1993);
and "Living Legends: Six Stories About Successful Deaf People" Darlene Toole (Butte Publications, 1996).  His own
article, "In An Alien World of Sound," was published in Theatreschrift, an international theatre book series (1994).

    His contributions to acting and theatre overlap with those to his community.  Early on, while still in college, Howie
founded Happy Handfuls, a touring theatre troupe based in Los Angeles.  As an Associate Producer, Howie was
instrumental in the creation of Rainbow's End, an Emmy award winning PBS television series (1977).  He co-founded
the Deaf Youth Drama Program at Seattle Children's Theatre (1993) and is a national board member of Very Special
Arts.  He is currently Program Manager of The Shared Reading Video Outreach Project, an award winning literacy
program delivered to deaf children in the state of Washington via long distance videoconferencing.



    Terrylene is a 20-plus-year veteran of stage, television and film.  The first recipient of the Christopher Reeve
Scholarship award for her acting work, Terrylene has also been honored by the Chicago International Film
Festival in recognition of her contribution to the progress of deaf representation in the entertainment industry.
    Terrylene created and starred in the critically acclaimed autobiographical one-woman show, "In the NOW,"
which toured nationally for two years.  She is now in the process of adapting this into a screenplay, and from
there developing it into her first indie film. A co-founder of the Deaf Arts Council, Terrylene gains from her
work with deaf children as much as she imparts to them through sharing the art of telling through filmmaking.
Working with notable directors such as Oliver Stone, Terrylene is an industry insider with film credits on
Natural Born Killers, City of Angels, and a number of indies, and most recently costarring in the thriller
After Image. She anticipates (and is actively contributing to) the growth of deaf filmmakers and the birth of
Deaf Cinema!



Visco, René

    Born in Pittsburgh, PA as the eleventh child in a family of 12, creativity came naturally to René during the
large dinner gatherings to thousands of stories.  In high school, he was the editor-in-chief of "Lion Tracks",
a high school newsletter, andalso contributed as a fiction writer to "The Blueberry Man Series".  Fresh out
of high school at 16 years of age, he enrolled in California State University, Northridge majoring in Radio,
Television, and Film with an emphasis on screenwriting.  He studied under Alan Armer, an esteemed CSUN
screenwriting professor.  René has authored many video and film projects, including  "One Hand" (1996),
"Disabled" (1999), "Doppelganger" (2002) and "Maborsi" (2002).
    René completed his Masters of Arts in Electronic Media and Film from American University in 2003, and
still intends to pursue an MFA in the future.
Currently, Renee works as a technology specialist at California School for the Deaf, Riverside, promoting
the use of technology in the classroom.   Previously, he taught media production to high school students.  His
experiences involved teaching media production courses as an Adjunct Professor at Gallaudet University.
Independently, René is working on two video projects: "Keychain", which focuses on an encounter between
a Deaf couple and a Deaf peddler; and "Audism", a documentary that explores the various faces of Audism,
soon to be distributed by his production company, LightKitchen.



Wolf, Peter