TikTok is turning sign Language interpreters of celebrity performances into standout stars in their own right.
- This week, Australian sign language (AUSLAN) interpreter Marc Ethan went viral on TikTok after translating singer Kim Petras’ explicit performance at Sydney WorldPride’s closing concert. In a fan-shot clip, Ethan is seen energetically performing Petras’ song “Throat Goat.”
- Deaf American sign language (ASL) interpreter and nursing student Justina Miles went viral with her performance during Rihanna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show in February.
- Previously, sign language interpreter Kelly Kurdi became a hit on TikTok for her performance of Cardi B’s and Megan Thee Stallion’s single “WAP” at Chicago festival in 2021. A video of Kurdi’s performance has over 43.7 million views on TikTok.
@mattmehl @kim petras @sydneyworldpride #sydney #mardigras #kimpetras #signlanguage #love #lgbtgiaplus #love #worldpride ♬ original sound – Matt Mehl
@ferlozar the collab we deserve #gay #superbowlliv #superbowl #signlanguage #asl #rihanna #halftimeshow #justinamiles ♬ original sound – Ferlozar
Why it matters: The impressive performances of sign language interpreters may never have been widely seen without TikTok.
- Rihanna’s ASL interpreter Justina Miles made history as the first deaf woman to perform during the Super Bowl Halftime Show. But while Miles was introduced, her performance was actually not shown in the national television broadcast. Despite the availability of picture-in-picture technology, viewers could only access Super Bowl sign language performers through a YouTube link which was reportedly glitching.
- Despite not getting national airtime, social media users uploaded videos of Miles’ Super Bowl performance and drew attention to the unknown interpreter. Retrospectively, many viewers concluded that Miles “stole the show.”
Fact: Over 5% of the global population — 432 million adults and 34 million children — have disabling hearing loss.