Oscars 2018: Rachel Shenton upholds promise to 6-year-old deaf star and delivers speech in sign language

Former Hollyoaks star Rachel Shenton warmed hearts across the world by delivering her Oscar acceptance speech in sign language. The British actress accepted the award for Best Live Action Short along with fiancé, Chris Overton, for their film, 'The Silent Child.' The 30-year-old 'Blood and Bone China' actress said she promised her film's lead actress, Maisie Sly, that she would use the British Sign Language for her acceptance speech if their movie won an Oscar.

Filmmakers Rachel Shenton (L) and Chris Overton accept Best Live Action Short Film for 'The Silent Child' onstage during the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Just as she took the stage, Rachel highlighted the silence that colors millions of deaf children's lives. The actress said her film, 'The Silent Child', doesn't sensationalize or exaggerate the plight of kids with a hearing disability. She added, "This is happening. Millions of children from all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers and particularly barriers to education."

filmmakers Chris Overton (L) and Rachel Shenton attend the 90th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Sayles/A.M.P.A.S via Getty Images)

"Deafness is a silent disability. You can’t see it and it’s not life threatening so I want to say the biggest of thank yous to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of the mainstream audience," the actress said.

Rachel wrote and starred in 'The Silent Child,' a film directed by her fiancé, Chris Overton. The couple walked the red carpet with their film's 6-year-old protagonist, Maise. The child actress made her debut in the award-winning movie, which revolved around the life of a deaf middle-class girl growing up in a hearing family.

In real life, Maisie has a hearing disability and so do her parents. The actress communicates with them using the British sign language, according to The Herald. Her father, Gilson, told the outlet that he couldn't be more proud of his daughter. "Maisie is representing a whole deaf community on the screen, we as a family are a part of that community and can’t express how proud we are of Maisie."

 (L-R) Rachel Shenton, Maisie Sly, and Chris Overton attend the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The deaf community was indeed proud of Maisie and Rachel for delivering her speech in sign. On Twitter, she was hailed for bringing awareness to the community. Many congratulated her on the speech that was incredibly inclusive and breaking the stigma surrounding deafness. One mom wrote, "This makes me soooo happy. I can’t wait to tell my daughter later as she often feels self-conscious when she signs." While another wrote, "Rachel Shenton signing her acceptance speech was phenomenal though. Signing while speaking can be so difficult, but it was beautiful. #BSL #Oscars."

Rachel gained prominence for her role as Mitzeee Minniver on Channel 4 soap 'Hollyoaks' from 2010 to 2013. She said earlier that she never considered herself as a writer. "I don’t class myself as a writer so I felt grossly under qualified doing this. I haven’t thought about the dress for the Oscars. I haven’t even got my head around the fact that I am nominated," Daily Mail quoted her as saying.

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Rushali Pawar


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