Netflix’s ‘My Life With the Walter Boys’ introduces the audience to the overwhelmingly great number of Walters. Katherine and George Walters have a lot of children, with all but one of them being boys. The story mostly focuses on the rivalry between Alex and Cole Walter, but the eldest Walter brother, Will, also receives his fair share of screen time. Having moved out of the house, Will deals with adult problems, most of which are centered on getting a stable job and paying for the wedding he wants with his fiancee, Hayley. Actor Johnny Link plays the role with a touch of candor that makes Will relatable and real to the audience. The actor and the character also share an important trait.
Actor Johnny Link is Hard of Hearing in Real Life
Will Walter in ‘My Life With the Walter Boys’ is hard of hearing and wears hearing aids. He mentions this to Jackie when they first meet, asking her not to feel like he is ignoring her if he doesn’t respond to something she says. In real life, Johnny Link has “moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss in both ears.” He has used hearing aids since he was three years old, and feels like he was mainstreamed because he has accommodated to a hearing world. So, when he picks a role, he tries it to be something of substance, something that tells inclusive stories and gives the audience a character they can empathize with or relate to.
Link, who is also a singer, dancer, and musician apart from being an actor, has a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Penn State University. He has performed in off-broadway shows like ‘Baby’ and ‘Private Jones,’ worked on the National Tour of R&H’s Cinderella, and appeared on TV shows like NBC’s ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ and Apple TV+’s ‘Dear Edward.’
When it comes to creating an environment for people with hearing loss, Links believes that the accommodations must be made on set in accordance with the person’s requirements, which might not be the same as the another person with hearing loss. “It’s always a different ask for each job. A lot of people don’t understand. They assume, ‘Oh, we’re talking face to face. You should be fine.’ But face-to-face in a room with just two people is different from a set of 100 people running around in front of you, with noise everywhere. You know—inside, outside, all kinds of variables—it’s honestly case by case,” he said.
In his roles, be it on the screen or in the theater, he has always made it a point to choose characters that are complex and offer a narrative beyond their identity as a person with hearing loss. Even for himself, he wants “to be embraced as a whole person” and “spend more time talking about the other sides” of him. He doesn’t want people to relate to him or others with hearing loss as limited to their hearing experience. There is much to their story, and the actor brings this point across through his varied roles.