Deaf Actress Terrylene, MSSD Alumna, Visits MSSD
Actress Terrylene Sacchetti, an alumna of the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD), recently came back to MSSD to visit with students and to share with them stories of her experiences in the performing arts.
Terrylene is one of those actresses best known by her first name. On December 3, she lit up MSSD’s Theatre Malz with a bright and entertaining presentation for students from the MSSD American Sign Language (ASL) Literature Production and Deaf Studies class and the dance and drama classes.
Terrylene credits her experience with MSSD’s Performing Arts Program for launching her career, and she encouraged the students to treasure the Theatre Malz and all that the theater stands for. She was happy to return to MSSD and recalled some of the experiences she had as a student. She shared her first audition experience at MSSD, which took place when she was a sophomore. She vividly recalled how Eric Malzkuhn, who ran the Performing Arts Program at the time and for whom the MSSD theater is named, asked her to give away her script page and just express in ASL what she understood from the assigned lines in English. When she finished, Malzkuhn thanked her for signing the lines in ASL. The audition was a life-changing moment for Terrylene. It made her value ASL in a different way and started a lifelong passion for the language.
Terrylene eloquently explained the differences working on the stage, on television shows, and in the movies. She personally thinks it is more prestigious to perform on the stage because it is the ultimate challenge for a performer to give an outstanding dramatic performance live and without mistakes.
During a Q&A after her presentation, Terrylene responded to questions from the audience. One student asked how she communicated with hearing people in the movies or on television shows. Terrylene said how a deaf person communicates varies depending on the situation. For example, if a deaf person is a union member and the movie project is coordinated through a union, then ASL interpreters are provided and paid by the union company. On the other hand, if it is an independent movie, then she personally tends to look for interpreters who might volunteer to meet their practicum requirements. She added that she always advises her interpreters not to dress up as professionally as they might for other interpreting jobs, asking them to wear jeans or comfortable clothes because one never knows what the conditions will be on the set where the film producer, the director, or someone else might ask the interpreter to stand due to the limitations of the set background.
One student asked Terrylene’s advice on whether a deaf person interested in acting should seek a job straight out of high school or instead go to college and try getting some acting jobs at the same time. Terrylene advised that it would be better for the person to go to college and do some acting jobs at the same time because that would help him or her to broaden his or her skills.
Terrylene has recently launched Clerc’s Children, an early intervention service that targets deaf infants and toddlers (ages birth to 5) and their parents. Clerc’s Children is a web-based dual language curriculum filled with auditory and visual stimulation which plays an important role in developing age-appropriate reading, writing, and communication skills. For more information.