Golden

 

Michael Spady 

Golden

 

Michael Anthony Spady was born in New Rochelle, New York and began acting at the age of nine.  Best known for his outstanding performance in the film The Hammer, opposite Russell Harvard and Shoshannah Stern, Spady is one of Hollywood’s most talented, motivated, determined and notable young Deaf actors working in film and television today.

 

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After a playing phone tag, Michael and I finally connected.  I have to admit, it was my first time having a conversation through an interpreter.  Strange at first, but not much time had passed and I was comfortable; having a normal conversation, interpreter and all.  Michael and I both talked a little about our hectic schedules and finally catching up with one another and then we dove right into it.

Michael isn’t the least bit shy about discussing the fact that he’s a black deaf actor.  Think about it, how many actors do you know are deaf and receiving starring roles?  Exactly.  Michael Spady is truly breaking the mold in the industry.  There’s so much we can learn from him like his integrity, his strength, wisdom and quite frankly his attitude.  Michael’s attitude is golden. He believes in himself before ever looking to someone else for approval.

My parents were afraid where my journey would lead me.  They never heard of deaf actors so they thought it would be hard to achieve.  After I got my degree, I decided to go after my dreams.  I got my hunger, drive and zest from my parents.  I moved to California from New York. I never thought I would see the billboard in front of my eyes “Stay Golden”. Ironically, my motto is Stay Gold! I knew I’m at the right place and right time. I belong here.

 I remember Deaf West Summer Program in 2002; I was in the Top 10 or 15 in the whole country for acting.  When I was selected, it was like this was meant to be. That program lead to other opportunities and my dad was like, go for it.  My mom was more like you need a backup plan. She also said what if acting didn’t go well, what are you going to do? So i decided to return to college and finish my studies. I told her I’m coming back to California and pursuit my dream. I kept my words. I graduated in 2006 with Bachelor degree and moved to California one month after graduation.

 

Where many would feel like being deaf is a hindrance, especially for someone wanting to pursue a career in acting, Michael just does not agree.

People feel like deaf people can’t take care of themselves.  I was born to be an actor.  It’s the truth! My parents always said I was a joy – man of the hour. It was in me. The main obstacle was me being deaf. It was hard for periods to incision me playing the roles written for or previously only played by a hearing person.

Once Michael realized he had a gift it was inevitable that acting would be his career- no matter what anyone had to say, he was going for it.

I didn’t step out until my senior year in high school.  I was not a musician.  I do not sing, but I could dance. I auditioned for the high school play, “Grease.”  I played Eugene, the nerd – that guy has something special.  I couldn’t be afraid anymore and people were very shocked.  I trained for it. I fought for it. I practiced. I went into that audition, took a deep breath and went for it.  I did it.  And everyone saw something in me. 

Being the deaf person who stepped out, lead others to step out and feed their passions.  It’s about who you are…you have to try for something.  You can’t wait for an opportunity…take it.

I don’t just go out for the deaf roles. I go out for the roles that fit me. I told my agent and manager, do not just submit me deaf roles. I just go out there and give my all.

 

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And that’s what he’s doing, taking every opportunity for growth within his career, building a name for himself and a strong awareness of deaf actors.  Michael talked about his important role in The Hammer, a movie he says fits close to his personality.  It’s based on a true story about the first deaf wrestler to be a three times national champion in wrestling.

Since his wonderful performance in The Hammer, Michael has been landing even more roles.  In fact, he’s currently working on a new film with a deaf director and a new role has been written specifically for him, The Unwanted, slated to shoot in 2015.  Plus, there another boxing film, – The Championship Rounds, in which Spady is the lead role. The first black male deaf actor to have a lead role in a motion picture whether limited theatrical or wide release. The film was a huge success in the film festival circuit with plans of a feature!

Being the first is just one of the many things he’s working to accomplish throughout his career…

I don’t just want to be famous. I want to be known for my work. Both on screen, and off screen helping to break through the barriers in this industry. So that anyone feels comfortable to go after any role that they believe, is meant for them to play.

Michael’s hope is that his leading roles help amplify diversity…something positive.

I’ve been through a lot. Growing up as a biracial child, I felt like I was always trying to “fit in”. Sometimes feeling like I wasn’t “black enough” or “white enough” for certain groups of people took a toll on me. I was deaf to that, brought me more difficulties. Some points of my childhood, teenage years, and even into early adulthood, were not happiest moments. People couldn’t believe the things I would do to myself.

For me, I want to know that we [industry] can get people to look at us.  Being deaf, we receive a lot of pity.  I repeal that.  I just want to lead by example.  I’m deaf for a reason.  My advice is to show others what you can be.

Acting saved my life. It helped me experience life.

I won’t pretend to understand the level of strength and tenacity Michael has to have to push himself…to show everyone that he is just as good as or even better than his counterparts. No matter what shape or form, we all have obstacles, born with them or not.  It’s up to us to take every challenge and turn them into triumphs.

 

Michael’s golden heart only brightens his motto, Stay Gold.

 

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