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Keivonn Woodard, 10, of Bowie, Maryland, is creating history. He is the first Black deaf actor and the second-youngest Emmy nominee ever.

Woodard was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series on Wednesday for his role on HBO’s “The Last of Us,” a post-apocalyptic zombie series based on the hit 2013 PlayStation video game of the same name. He is the category’s youngest nominee ever.

Woodard plays Sam, an eight-year-old deaf artist diagnosed with leukemia who debuts briefly in Episode 4 before taking on a greater role in Episode 5. Although Sam’s video game counterpart is not deaf, the series’ creators altered to allow a deaf actor to play the character Woodard’s performance was labeled “astonishing” and “fantastic,” and the episodes he appeared in as heartbreaking and a “standout” on the critically-praised show.

source: The DMV Daily

Woodard recently spoke with Deadline about his historic Emmy nomination.

He said he understood the importance of the moment for other actors who are deaf.

From Deadline:

“I think that everybody should just do their best when they’re trying to act and just go for the auditions. Don’t worry about it, and just go ahead and try to act your best. Yes, it was hard with the facial expressions and learning how to [interpret the script for American Sign Language], but I think it’s really important to also learn to listen to your production team and to collaborate with them. I got in, and so can you.”

Woodard’s mother, April Jackson-Woodard, said she and the family have been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received since his portrayal on the hit cable series.

Also from Deadline:

“People kept sending messages, and I cried immediately because I never thought or dreamed it would happen to my son. You know, I never even considered it.” Jackson-Woodard said. “After Keivonn got the role, I asked myself, ‘How do I even prepare my life?’ It wasn’t easy, especially as a Black Deaf mother and also being a widow. I was trying to take care of everything on my own, but he would say, ‘Mom, I got this.’ And he did. He’s the first young Black Deaf actor to be nominated in Emmys history, on top of this being his first TV show [and major audition process]. We are completely humbled and honored.”


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Keivonn Woodard, 10, Makes History As First Black Deaf Actor Nominated For An Emmy  was originally published on