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April 13, 2005

Matlin coming to CCC

From: Bridgeton News, NJ - Apr 13, 2005

Staff Writer

She's an Academy Award-winning actress, with 19 movies, an equal amount of television shows and a book under her belt.

At 18 months of age, she became deaf after a bout of Roseola Infantum, a contagious disease that causes high fever, rash and enlarging of the lymph nodes and spleen.

In a free forum on Thursday, April 14 at 7 p.m., she's coming to the Frank Guaracini Jr. Fine and Performing Arts Center at Cumberland County College.

She's Marlee Matlin, and, via a special e-mail interview, she shared her thoughts about the upcoming visit.

"I (want) to convey that what (the students are) doing matters, that success comes in many forms," Matlin said. "My success as an actress who is hearing impaired was completely unexpected, at least from the Hollywood community.

"But, in my family, this was not unexpected. The dream of becoming whatever I set my heart and mind to was to be expected."

Matlin wanted to visit to tell people right here in Cumberland County that they should also follow their dreams.

"I (want) to convey that the same goes for the students and community of CCC," she said. "It may be that there are many barriers to success, but. despite what people say out there, bridges can be built and they can be crossed. I (want) to come to CCC to show them that if I could do it, they could do it, too."

In regards to the local deaf community, Matlin hopes to reach out and inspire them through her example.

"I can only hope to inspire and spread the message that success comes if you want it, if you are willing to dedicate yourself to reaching for your dreams despite what barriers are erected to stand in your way," she said.

When asked about the college's 2002 production of "Children of a Lesser god," the same movie which put her on the Hollywood map as an Oscar winner for Best Actress, Matlin stressed that all opportunities should be offered to the deaf community.

"My belief is that theater and the arts should be open and accessible to all," Matlin said. "It's not enough to have theater that tells deaf stories. All roles should be open to actors of all abilities, whether hearing or deaf.

"When I seek out work in Hollywood, I don't look only for deaf story lines. I look for roles which are challenging and worthy of my interest.

"Roles like those which I played on "The West Wing" are roles that could've been played by anyone, but the producers had the courage to cast me in them. This is what I look for in film and theater and what I hope can happen everywhere."

The visit will be Matlin's first in the southern part of New Jersey, but she's been to North Jersey before and just returned two weeks ago to reprise an Emmy nominated role on "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit."

"I guess I have to thank the State of New Jersey for my Emmy nomination!" she said.

Some of the other popular television shows Matlin has appeared in, are: "Seinfeld," "Picket Fences," "The Practice," "Judging Amy" and "ER."

Matlin will be signing during the entire performance, and the event will be interpreted for the hearing audience, as well as CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) interpretation for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Seating for the free event will begin at 6:30 p.m., on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, contact the CCC Box Office at 692-8499.

© 2005 Bridgeton News © 2005 All Rights Reserved.