Deaf Guest Actor from “The Last of Us” Makes Emmy History and Receives Praise from Marlee Matlin

Keivonn Montreal Woodard, the actor known for his role in “The Last of Us,” has achieved a historic milestone at the Emmy Awards. At just 10 years old, Woodard secured an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actor in a drama series, portraying the character of Sam Burrell, an apocalypse survivor, in the popular HBO drama. This nomination makes him the youngest actor ever to be recognized in this category. Additionally, Woodard holds the distinction of being the first Black Deaf actor to receive such a nomination, a significant accomplishment according to Deadline.

Reacting to the news, Woodard expressed his surprise and offered advice to aspiring actors from similar communities. He encouraged everyone to give their best in auditions and not worry about the challenges they may face. Woodard acknowledged the difficulties he encountered, such as expressing emotions through facial expressions and mastering the interpretation of the script in American Sign Language. However, he emphasized the importance of listening to the production team and collaborating with them. Woodard assured others that with dedication, they too can achieve their goals.

Woodard’s nomination as a young Black Deaf actor holds immense importance and carries a significant impact. His achievement garnered praise on social media, with acclaimed actress Marlee Matlin, who has been deaf since childhood, congratulating him and comparing their respective milestones. Matlin, the youngest Best Actress winner at the Oscars, applauded Woodard’s nomination and expressed her support.

Woodard’s mother, April Jackson-Woodard, shared her overwhelming emotions upon learning about her son’s nomination. She received messages from well-wishers, including his co-star Bella Ramsey from “The Last of Us.” April, a Black Deaf mother and widow, was grateful for the unexpected recognition. She acknowledged the challenges she faced in preparing for this new chapter in their lives but highlighted her son’s assurance that he had everything under control.

Woodard described the supportive atmosphere on the set, with Ramsey acting as a big sister figure and even learning some American Sign Language. Co-star Pedro Pascal also exhibited understanding and engaged in friendly interactions. However, it was Lamar Johnson, who portrayed Woodard’s older brother in the series, that became like family off-screen. Woodard cherished their bond and mentioned their shared interests, such as playing video games and communicating through technology.

In addition to Woodard’s nomination, Lamar Johnson, Nick Offerman, and Murray Bartlett also received Emmy nominations in the guest actor in a drama series category for their appearances in different episodes of season 1. “The Last of Us” earned a total of 17 nominations. The 75th annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place on September 18th and will be broadcast live from the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles.

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