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Critically acclaimed performer Marlee Matlin became the first and only deaf performer to ever win an Academy Award for acting. The Hollywood newcomer took the “Best Actress” Oscar for her role in the 1986 film Children of a Lesser God. While most people recognize her for the numerous film and television roles she has gone on to portray, Marlee has also become one of the most prominent advocates for the deaf community as well as others who face discrimination due to their differing abilities.

Though she lost her hearing at only 18 months old, Marlee never let her challenges dictate her future or deter her dreams of having a career in the performing arts. Many may know Marlee from her participation on Sesame Street, Dancing With the Stars, and The Celebrity Apprentice. Some of her acting highlights include her roles on The West Wing, The L Word, Desperate Housewives, and the multi-award winning documentary-style film What the Bleep Do We Know? which examines some of the more mystical elements of quantum physics. She currently stars on the Peabody Award-winning series Switched at Birth.

Off screen Marlee is a best-selling author and active humanitarian who is involved in several charities that focus on aiding children. She is an Honorary Board Member of Easter Seals. Her relentless advocacy was key to moving The Television Decoder Circuitry Act through Congress - legislation that provided deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans equal access to closed captioning for television programs by requiring that all televisions come with the technology to generate subtitles.

As part of her endeavor to break down barriers for the deaf community, Marlee developed “Marlee Signs”, the first celebrity-driven app teaching basics of American Sign Language on mobile devices. She has become a fixture at the Super Bowl, signing the National Anthem to mark the beginning of each game.

Full Profile

    Marlee Matlin received worldwide critical acclaim for her motion picture debut in Paramount Pictures’ Children of a Lesser God, earning her the Academy Award for Best Actress. At age 21, she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar, making her one of only four actresses to receive that honor for a film debut. In addition to the Oscar, Matlin was honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama. That same year she was honored by Harper’s Bazaar as one of “The Ten Most Beautiful Women” and Esquire’s “Women We Love.”

    Since then, Matlin has starred in numerous feature films, including Walker, The Player, Hear No Evil and in the AIDS drama It’s My Party written and directed by Randal Kleiser. In 2005, Matlin starred in the critically acclaimed documentary/feature, What the Bleep Do We Know!?

    On TV, Matlin made her debut starring opposite Lee Remick, in CBS’s Bridge to Silence, a film that marked her first speaking role. Following that she starred for two seasons in NBC’s series, Reasonable Doubts opposite Mark Harmon. For seven seasons, Matlin starred opposite Martin Sheen, Jimmy Smits and Bradley Whitford as pollster, Joey Lucas, on NBC’s Emmy Award winning series, The West Wing. She has also guest starred on The Larry Sanders Show, Spin City, Desperate Housewives, ER, Judging Amy and CSI: New York and had a recurring role on NBC’s My Name is Earl. In 2007, Matlin joined the cast of Showtime’s cutting-edge drama The L Word starring opposite Jennifer Beals and in 2008, Matlin broke barriers once again when she joined the cast of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. She also appears on the 2011 season of NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice, opposite Gary Busey, Star Jones and of course, Donald Trump.

    Passionate about children, she has also appeared in a number of educational and children’s programs. Matlin served as host of PBS’s Emmy Award winning series People in Motion and, in 2007, was featured in the PBS documentary, Through Deaf Eyes. Her other television appearances include MTV’s Rock the Vote, Disney’s award winning series Adventures in Wonderland, and Nickelodeon’s Emmy Award winning Blues Clues where she appeared as Marlee the Librarian. She can currently be seen starring in Disney’s highly acclaimed Baby Einstein DVD series, teaching sign language to infants and toddlers.

    An Academy Award and Golden Globe winner, Matlin has also received multiple nominations for her work on television including two Golden Globe Award nominations as Best Actress in a Dramatic Television Series, two People’s Choice Awards nominations for Favorite Actress in a Drama, and four Emmy award nominations for her guest turns on CBS’s Picket Fences, ABC’s The Practice and NBC’s Seinfeld and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

    In September 1999, under her Solo One Productions banner, Matlin embarked on her first effort as Executive Producer with the courtroom thriller Where the Truth Lies (Lifetime Television) in which she also starred. In 2003 she produced Eddie’s Million Dollar Bake-off (The Disney Channel). She is also the author of three novels for children entitled Deaf Child Crossing (2002) and the sequels, Nobody’s Perfect (2006) and Leading Ladies (2007) for Simon & Schuster.

    Matlin most recently penned her autobiography for Simon & Schuster. Entitled I’ll Scream Later, Matlin takes readers on the frank and touching journey of her life, from the frightening loss of her hearing at eighteen months old to the highs and lows of Hollywood, her battles with addiction, and the unexpected challenges of being thrust into the spotlight as an emissary for the deaf community.

    Matlin currently serves as a National Celebrity Spokesperson for the American Red Cross, encouraging Americans to donate blood. She has worked on behalf of closed captioning and was instrumental in getting Congress to pass federal legislation requiring all televisions manufactured in the United States be equipped with closed captioning technology. She also serves on the boards of a number of charitable organizations including Easter Seals, The Children Affected by Aids Foundation, as well as those charities which primarily benefit children. In 1995, Matlin served as Chairperson for National Volunteer Week and was honored in a White House Rose Garden ceremony by President Clinton. In 2006 Matlin was honored by AOL as “Chief Everything Officer,” highlighting the important contributions of mothers, both home and work environments.


Marlee Matlin Speaker Videos Back to top

Marlee Matlin, Inspirational Speaker and Actress: Talks at Google


Actress and producer Marlee Matlin shares how she used willpower to carve out a twenty-plus year long career that is still going strong despite having what many people might classify as a “disability.” Having been told that her entertainment career would quickly fizzle out after winning an Oscar “out of pity,” the deaf performer reflects on how attitudes in Hollywood and the broader American society have changed towards people who are “differently-abled” such as herself.

While most of the barriers that she faces today are on the humorous side – such as an airline stewardess handing her a menu in Braille after seeing her signing – Marlee acknowledges that we still have much more work to do in regard to eliminating discrimination against those who are differently abled. “No matter what abilities we possess, all of us not only deserve respect, we deserve to be heard,” she states, as she praises the work that Google and other Internet pioneers have done to further the deaf community’s access to the world wide web through such innovative advancements like YouTube’s closed captioning.

Marlee Matlin, Inspirational Speaker and Actress: Commencement address


Marlee Matlin, Inspirational Speaker and Actress: Keynote



Speeches / Speaking Engagements Back to top


“I may be deaf, but I’m probably one of the loudest people you will ever meet,” Marlee Matlin has commented. The successful actress, author, and humanitarian is eager to share her experiences as a deaf performer in Hollywood as she hopes to inspires others to never let their perceived disabilities or obstacles get in the way of their dreams. Marlee balances her energetic and often humorous insights on how others react to her deafness with valuable thoughts and actions we can take to include others and promote diversity.




* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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I’ll Scream Later
From Children of a Lesser God to Dancing with the Stars, to Switched at Birth, Academy Award– and Golden Globe–winning actress Marlee Matlin shares her incredible life story in a moving and often surprising memoir, I’ll Scream Later.

More than twenty years after becoming the youngest woman to win a Best Actress Oscar for her stunning performance as Sarah Norman, the pupil-turned-custodian at a school for the Deaf in Children of a Lesser God, Marlee Matlin continues to be an inspirational force of nature. A working mother, wife, activist, and role model, she takes readers on the frank and touching journey of her life, from the sudden and permanent loss of her hearing at eighteen months old to the highs and lows of Hollywood, her battles with addiction, and the unexpected challenges of being thrust into the spotlight as an emissary for the Deaf community. With uncompromising honesty, she reveals the shocking incidents of molestation that took her years to reconcile; her passionate and tumultuous relationship with Oscar winner William Hurt; her romances with Rob Lowe, Richard Dean Anderson, and David E. Kelley; and much more. As fresh and invigorating as her memorable television roles on Seinfeld, The West Wing, The L Word, and her dazzling turn on Dancing with the Stars, Marlee Matlin’s self-portrait captures the chutzpah and humor of a celebrated actress who continues to defy all expectations.


Marlee Matlin, Inspirational Speaker and Actress: Talks at Google


Actress and producer Marlee Matlin shares how she used willpower to carve out a twenty-plus year long career that is still going strong despite having what many people might classify as a “disability.” Having been told that her entertainment career would quickly fizzle out after winning an Oscar “out of pity,” the deaf performer reflects on how attitudes in Hollywood and the broader American society have changed towards people who are “differently-abled” such as herself.

While most of the barriers that she faces today are on the humorous side – such as an airline stewardess handing her a menu in Braille after seeing her signing – Marlee acknowledges that we still have much more work to do in regard to eliminating discrimination against those who are differently abled. “No matter what abilities we possess, all of us not only deserve respect, we deserve to be heard,” she states, as she praises the work that Google and other Internet pioneers have done to further the deaf community’s access to the world wide web through such innovative advancements like YouTube’s closed captioning.

Marlee Matlin, Inspirational Speaker and Actress: Commencement address


Marlee Matlin, Inspirational Speaker and Actress: Keynote