Deaf Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, was the keynote speaker last night at the Council for Exceptional Children Convention and Expo here in Seattle, Washington. I have always found Marlee’s story to be inspirational, and was reminded of this when reading about her speech last night to over 2,000 educators from around the United States. Here is a snippet of the article in today’s PI Online:
“I know,” the acclaimed actress told the crowd, “that I am here today because people like you listened to me.”
Though most people there knew her story, Matlin explained that her parents wanted her to grow up doing what she loved — and to be accepted doing it.
Matlin’s mother encouraged her go into acting, and she debuted as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” performing at a community theater near Chicago. When Henry Winkler visited near the peak of his fame, then-13-year-old Matlin insisted on meeting him and saying she wanted to be an actor just like him.
Her mother pulled the “Happy Days” star aside and asked him to choose his words carefully. Matlin’s mother worried that if her daughter went it to Hollywood, she’d only experience pain and disappointment.
“Marlee, sweetheart, you can be whatever you want to be,” she recalled hearing from Winkler, who as a child had teachers insult him because of undiagnosed dyslexia.
Nine years later, Matlin won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in “Children of a Lesser God.”
You can read the entire story on last nights motivating and inspiring speech at the PI Online.