Daniel Durant is competing on season 31 of “Dancing With the Stars,” partnering with professional dancer Britt Stewart. The “CODA” actor is following in the footsteps of past deaf contestants, Nyle DiMarco and Marlee Matlin.
The 32-year-old was born deaf, the child of two deaf parents, in Minnesota, according to the New York Times. The outlet revealed his mother left him at a neighbor’s house who eventually contacted his father. In the end, he was adopted by his paternal aunt in Duluth, Minnesota.
His aunt was the first one to introduce Durant to American Sign Language.
‘He attended mainstream schools in Duluth before transferring to the Minnesota State School for the Deaf in 8th grade,” according to a press release. “Daniel graduated from MSAD in 2008 and attended RIT in Rochester, NY and Gallaudet in Washington, DC.”
Durant Starred in the Oscar-Winning Film ‘CODA’
Durant is no stranger to the stage or screen. He has performed in numerous productions for the Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, California, according to Disney+. He also appeared in season 3 of Netflix’s “You,” recurring as the character James.
But perhaps most notably, Durant starred in the Oscar-winning film, “CODA.” In the film, he plays the main character’s brother.
He spoke about the challenges of having deaf actors on set. “There are already so many challenges. [Deafness] is not going to make a big difference,” Durant told The Hollywood Reporter. “I don’t want [filmmakers] to think that we are this extra burden. We’re not deaf actors. We’re just actors, period.”
Durant Enjoys the Vibration of Music
While he cannot hear, Durant is no stranger to turning up the music.
“I’m fully deaf. I can’t hear anything at all but I love feeling the vibration through my body,” Durant explained on “The Kelly Clarkson” show.
As NPR explained, he would ask his mother to turn up the volume while riding to soccer games as a kid.
“Sometimes I’d ask my mom, ‘Can you turn it up so I can feel the bass?’ And my mom was like, ‘Yeah,’ but we struggled to hear it,” he explained. “So my mom went ahead and bought a new sound system, and I loved it. You could feel the bass. It was so strong. The windows were shaking. It felt so good.”
According to NPR, there was one occasion as a kid when he “cranked up the sound system” while waiting in the car.
“I loved it. I could feel the car shaking. I was having so much fun,” he explained, adding that a passerby even rolled down his window and looked at him.
He continued, “I was just imagining he must be like, ‘Wow, you have such a nice system, playing a great song.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ And I started dancing to him and another person pulled up. It was a woman, same thing. I pointed at her and kept dancing.”
But, as his mom revealed when she returned, he was not listening to music but rather NPR.
Season 31 of “Dancing With the Stars” premieres live on Disney+ at 8 p.m. Eastern and 5 p.m. Pacific times.