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Teen Says Strictly Come Dancing Shows Deaf People ‘Not On Side-Lines’

December 21, 2021

A teenage actor has said the first deaf winner of Strictly Come Dancing has shown that those who cannot hear are “not just on the side-lines”.

EastEnders actor Rose Ayling-Ellis, the first deaf contestant in the BBC programme’s history, won the 2021 competition on Saturday.

Paris Thompson, 17, from Norfolk, who was born deaf, wants to follow in her footsteps.

“I’m here, I’m ready for anything,” she said.

“Just be aware that there are deaf people that need roles and that there are deaf people in the arts community that want to be involved and they shouldn’t have to be separated from it,” she said.

Paris, is part of the theatre company at The Garage in Norwich, which provides performing arts programming, participation and education for all ages, but particularly focuses on young people in challenging circumstances.

She started acting in nursery school in the role of Mary in the Nativity and has made a short film called Coda.

“I just love acting, it’s hard to pinpoint why, I just really enjoy being a character,” she said.

Ayling-Ellis and her professional dance partner Giovanni Pernice were praised throughout the BBC series but the production paid particular tribute to the deaf community, while dancing to music by Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson.

Halfway through, the music cut out as the pair danced on, in order to show people what a deaf person’s world was like.

“I actually loved watching Strictly, it was so exciting,” Paris said.

“I think Rose has really just opened [things] up more for the hearing world, for everyone to see that deaf people are not just there on the side-lines.

“We are here and we do need opportunities and we can do the same things that any hearing person can do.”

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