Gallaudet alum to compete on "America's Next Top Model"

July 29, 2015

Author: Andrew Greenman, '10

Update: Nyle DiMarco won America's Next Top Model on December 4, 2015.

Nyle DiMarco, '13, is breaking ground as the first deaf participant in the popular and long-running television show, "America's Next Top Model." DiMarco said he made an impression on his fellow cast mates and exposed them to the deaf community in ways they never had before.

"It is inspiring being the first deaf participant on ANTM, knowing I am making a difference by reaching out and educating others about our Deaf Culture and teaching sign language to other cast members," said DiMarco.

ANTM was created by supermodel Tyra Banks in 2003. The show, which is also hosted by Banks, has been nationally syndicated on the CW network since 2006. Every season of ANTM begins with 10 to 14 contestants, who are judged weekly by a panel of celebrities on their modeling shoots and participation in certain challenges, which leads to the elimination of all but one participant.

DiMarco, who grew up in Frederick, Md., has a number of acting experiences under his belt, with a leading role in ASL Film's 2013 In The Can film, as well as guest starring on an episode of ABC's "Switched at Birth" as Garrett, a car mechanic. Growing up, DiMarco wanted to teach math at a deaf school, aspiring to eventually move to the administrative level.

But his path would shift thanks to the encouragement of Mark Wood, founder of the deaf-owned ASL Films and director of In The Can.

"Wood connected me to an agency, which in turn asked me to audition for 'Switched at Birth.' As for ANTM, I was discovered via social media and Models.com. The thought of applying for ANTM didn't occur to me until I was contacted by a casting director and encouraged to apply," said DiMarco.

DiMarco recognizes the importance of breaking barriers and bridging gaps between the deaf and hearing communities.

"It's all thanks to Wood that I am where I am today. He sat me down, said he could feel my energy, told me I had a Hollywood face, and that I had a story. Lauren Benedict, '13 and Tommy Korn, G-'14, were also my backbones throughout this process," said DiMarco. "My goal is to gain a contract with a major worldwide agency, break more barriers, and see more deaf people join me in the acting and modeling industries. I want to embrace the world in order to embrace my deafness, which is something I want to see other deaf people do."

The first episode of the new season of ANTM featuring DiMarco will air on August 5, 2015. To find your local CW channel, click here.

DiMarco will also be featured in a cover story for the September 2015 issue of DeafLife, a magazine that shares news from the deaf community nationwide.

DiMarco plans to host a viewing party at Red Rocks Pizza at 1348 H Street, NE D.C., on Wednesday, August 5 at 6:30 p.m. All are free to attend.