ABC’s ‘The Company You Keep’ follows the story of a conman and a CIA agent who fall in love with each other. Charlie Nicoletti and his family— which includes Charlie’s parents, and his sister— swindle rich people, particularly the ones who are in shady business. They are tight-knit and value love and loyalty above everything else. The apple of their eyes is Charlie’s niece, Ollie. She is still a teenager so they keep her out of the con business, but she shows exceptional aptitude for picking up the skills that the family cultivated over the years.
Another thing that ties the family together is that all of them can speak sign language. The reason behind this is that Ollie is deaf. So, the family resorts to using ASL whenever she is a part of the conversation. This adds a beautiful intimacy to the family, emphasizing just how close their bonds are. If you are wondering whether the role of Ollie is played by a deaf actress, then we’ve got you covered.
Is Shaylee Mansfield Deaf in Real Life?
Yes, Shaylee Mansfield, who plays Ollie Nicoletti in ‘The Company You Keep’, is a deaf actress. Born to deaf parents, Mansfield started making online videos with her family at a young age. In 2013, the family started ASL Nook, a web series that helps people learn American sign language. It had started as a small venture, but the videos went viral, which came as a surprise to them. I was shocked because back then, it was almost impossible for deaf videos to go viral. It was as if deaf people were seen as not important and hidden,” Mansfield said. The family called it a “surreal” moment, proving that their videos “had entertainment as well as a cultural value” because they were being made by deaf people, as opposed to the majority of videos that are made by hearing people.
The success of these videos led Hollywood executives to notice them, and soon, they reached out to them for several projects. The family became a part of Disney’s Unforgettable Campaign, which won the Gold Award at the LA Addys in 2017. They were also featured in the documentary ‘Born This Way: Deaf Out Loud’, which focuses on the story of three deaf families. Later, Mansfield was called to audition for a role in Disney’s ‘Noelle’, starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader. After she got this part, she landed another role in Netflix’s ‘Feel the Beat’.
Now, starring in ‘The Company You Keep’, Mansfield has proved herself to be a talented young actress. She continues to use her social media as a platform to spread awareness as well as educate people about sign language. In 2022, she became the first deaf person to be credited as a voice-over actor for her role in ‘Dreamworks’. “To be credited is a huge deal.. ‘Voice’ is not only for people who speak with their mouth. My hands and language are very much my voice,” she said.
All of this is just the beginning for Mansfield who hopes to play a variety of roles, from a Disney princess, or a villain, to a superhero. “I want to act in a Star Wars film and play a superhero. My dream is to work with The Rock as well as Zendaya. The biggest dream of all is to act in a blockbuster with several amazing deaf actors,” she said. Apart from acting, she loves to paint and care for animals. She is aware of the opportunity that her platform gives her and wants to use it for good. Mansfield said: “I’m grateful to have a platform that will give not only Deaf children, but all children to freely speak up, to fight for what they want, and to be fully themselves even if it is not ‘popular’.”