Joey Kadera is a senior and aspiring actor at J.L. Mann High School in Greenville, South Carolina. He has already won several awards, including first place in a South Carolina International Thespian Society competition. He will also represent South Carolina at June’s National Thespian Society Festival in Nebraska. It is an impressive list of an accomplishments for any nineteen year-old actor, especially one who only began acting two years ago with a small part in a performance of The Nutcracker.
But what makes his accomplishments even more impressive is that Kadera had to learn acting in a much different way than most actors. That’s because Kadera is deaf, which also renders him unable to speak on stage.
Incredibly, Kadera has not only acted on stage but has also learned choreographed dances for the school’s production of The Tale of the Stars last fall — a seemingly impossible task since Kadera couldn’t hear the music or feel the beat. He also has faced a number of challenges in his young life — the school for the deaf he previously attended in Florida closed after he moved there to attend its drama program, and his father recently passed away after a battle with cancer. But Kadera has thrived in his acting, playing a number of non-speaking roles on stage.
His success convinced him to enter a monologue in the statewide competition to represent South Carolina at the National Thespian Society Festival, in which he has to tell a story through pantomime. Kadera, who speaks through his classroom interpreter Cindy Carroll, remarks, “Since I’m deaf, I know my voice can’t communicate. People can’t understand me. I use my body language, my gestures, and it just lets me be me.”
Carroll recalls that after his performance at the competition, “When he got done, the entire auditorium just stood up. They were stomping their feet. They were clapping their hands. And it was just so wonderful and I could hear it and he couldn’t. They just kept on and on, and it was just wonderful. And he deserved every second of that.”