The American Sign Language and Deaf Culture club hosted Daniel Durant on Friday March 21st in the Mitchell Auditorium. Durant, a deaf actor, is well known for his recurring role on ABC Family's show Switched at Birth, where he plays Matthew, a character Durant describes as a troublemaker. He has also had roles in DeafWest Theatre productions, such as Charlie in Flowers for Algernon. The event was also voice-interpreted for attendees not fluent in sign language.
Durant spoke about his life experiences and described how he became an actor. After being given up by his biological mother, he was raised in Duluth by his aunt. Because he had no language when she first adopted him, she got him involved in many deaf events in the area, including camps where he discovered a love of storytelling. Durant attended Marshall High School, during which time he was introduced to and became interested in acting. He then transferred to Faribault to attend the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf. After attending college, he eventually was given a role as an extra on Switched at Birth, becoming a recurring character later.
Durant showed several clips of his acting from the popular TV show, as well as from his theatrical roles in Flowers for Algernon and Police Deaf Near Far. Using a clip from Flowers for Algernon he explained the interaction of a deaf actor with his interpreter when putting together a theater production for both the deaf and hearing. He also cited his role as Charlie in that production as one of his favorite to have played.
Student reactions to the event were very positive and enthusiastic. "He was really good at capturing the audience's attention, and was also funny," said Danielle Inderlee. Durant also worked with the ASL Club, holding a workshop on ASL.
At the close of the show, Durant held up his own life experiences as encouragement to anyone with an obstacle to overcome, assuring them that realizing a dream is possible. He then took a selfie with the program attendees in the background before moving out to the lobby to meet and greet attendees.