Is Echo Actress Alaqua Cox Deaf in Real Life?

Disney+’s superhero series ‘Echo’ revolves around Maya Lopez/Echo, a deaf Choctaw who sets out to avenge the murder of her father William by turning against Wilson Fisk/Kingpin. Throughout the series, Maya communicates with the people around her using sign language. Alaqua Cox, like her character, is also deaf. Although Cox didn’t have any acting experience, apart from performing in a high school play, before joining the cast of ‘Hawkeye’ to play Maya, the actress was happy about ensuring the representation of the deaf community on screen. From her recurring appearance in ‘Hawkeye’ to headlining the cast of a standalone series that centers on Maya, Cox has reached commendable heights!

Becoming a Deaf Superheroine

In Marvel Comics, Echo is a born deaf character. While Marvel was trying to cast the character for ‘Hawkeye,’ Alaqua Cox worked in an Amazon warehouse in Wisconsin. At the end of the casting process, she was welcomed to the Marvel family by a group of executives and crew members using sign language. “I saw 12 people, including Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, doing the deaf clap where you wave both of your hands. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ And they said, ‘Welcome to the Marvel family!’” Cox told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Cox has been delighted to represent the deaf community by playing Maya/Echo. “The deaf community is in huge support of this role because they want to see deaf people represented in these deaf roles. Most of the time it’s hearing people that take these roles, but finally authentic representation is here. So, I’m excited for that, and so is everybody else,” the actress told EW. Cox was able to display her skills while training to play Maya in ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘Echo.’ “Deaf people have really good visual skills. I can easily catch things. During the training, they were like, ‘Oh, wow, you’re a fast learner.’ I was like, ‘Well, I just watched you,’” she added.

Sydney Freeland, who served as an executive producer and the head director of ‘Echo,’ wanted to make sure that she had a well-equipped team to help Cox. “The first thing that we did is that we made sure that we had deaf writers in the writer’s room,” Freeland told ABC 7 Chicago. “We made sure we had deaf consultants behind the scenes. We had an ASL master who would translate our scripts from English to ASL because one of the things that I learned is that the two languages are actually very different from each other,” the director added.

Several crew members, including Freeland, took ASL classes to shoot the series. Ultimately, the whole show was built around Cox’s performance. “I think for myself, it was terrifying initially and then exhilarating to find out how do we portray this. How do we go about with a lead character that doesn’t speak, you know? And, I think the more we got into it, the more excited we got. And so, our visual approach and our visual style are built around Alaqua Cox,” Freeland told CinemaBlend.

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