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Dominique Fishback Shares Her Motivation To Learn Sign Language As A Black Woman
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Dominique Fishback Shares Her Motivation To Learn Sign Language As A Black Woman

Actress Dominique Fishback is restoring faith in humanity after revealing the significant reason behind her decision to learn sign language.

Fishback, who has been involved in the entertainment industry for nearly a decade, is recognized by many for her groundbreaking performances in The Hate U Give, Project Power, Judas and the Black Messiah, Swarm, etc.


To date, the 32-year-old is currently starring in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts alongside actors Anthony Ramos and Tobe Nwigwe. While the trio was promoting the film recently, Fishback shared that she knows how to communicate with others using sign language and that she learned how to sign while attending college in New York many years ago.

According to the University of Washington, sign language is a form of communication through symbols and gestures "commonly used" by individuals that are deaf. The site also states sign language is not universal and that depending on where a person is located, they would have to learn the appropriate language. American sign language (ASL) is frequently used within the United States.

Dominique On Why She Learned Sign Language

During the June discussion, which has since gone viral, Fishback disclosed the reason why she learned sign language stemmed from her personal experience of being a "Black person" and having to navigate in spaces where no one is "forced to understand" where she came from.

The Deuce star would add that those instances in her life motivated her to figure out how it must feel for those that are deaf and how they adjust to life without having people accommodating them because it isn't enforced.

"I'm going to be very honest as a Black person having to go into other areas where nobody is forced to like understand where I come from, I wondered what it would be like to not be able to hear and feel like you have to kind of navigate the world and nobody is forced to navigate with you because they don't have to,” she explained. “So I said, ‘If I learn sign language, maybe that could be helpful to other people.’"

Further into the interview, Fishback recalled an event that involved a mother and her young child while working at the concession stand at a movie theater. The Night Comes On actress shared that the mother verbally ordered popcorn, and when Fishback asked if she wanted some butter, the woman apologized and said she was deaf.

Fishback would respond by using the appropriate gestures to rephrase the question. When the woman saw that Fishback knew sign language, she was shocked and told her daughter, who immediately became excited.

"I worked at the movie theater, and this woman came in. She spoke to me, she said, 'Can I have popcorn? So I turned and said, 'You want butter on your popcorn?' She goes, 'Oh, I'm sorry, and she says I'm deaf.' I said, 'I'm sorry you want butter on your popcorn?' ( signing) She was like [gasps]. She told her daughter that she was very excited," Fishback recalled.

Dominique On Another Instance Where She Used Sign Language

This isn't the only occasion Fishback has opened up about her passion for using sign language to help bring people together.

In a March interview with Jimmy Kimmel Live, Fishback revealed that as she attended the Vanity Fair Oscar Party that same month, she had to interpret a conversation for Creed III star Jonathan Majors when a deaf fan came up to the actor and wanted to talk to him about his performance in the film.

"A deaf person actually came to talk to him [Jonathan Majors] about his performance in Creed III, and I've been learning sign language in college. That was a couple years ago. So I didn't know how much I remembered, but he didn't know, so I ended up interpreting for him... I love sign language," Fishback said.

When asked if she took any classes to learn sign language, Fishback explained that besides taking a course while in school, she also searched online for free ASL classes in New York and found one at a Mormon church, which she attended weekly.

"It was a class that I took. I also ended up googling a free ASL class in New York City, and I found one in a Mormon church on 14th Street in New York. They do free lessons on Tuesdays, so I just went there," Fishback stated.

Fishback using her past experiences to learn sign language and help bridge a gap in any way she can is an inspirational tale for us all.

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Feature image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

 

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