Early life, family, educational background
American producer, actor and writer, Sean Lance Berdy was born on June 3, 1993 in Boca Raton, Florida, USA. He was raised with his younger brother, Tyler by Scott and Terrie Berdy, in a Hebrew Catholic family. All four are deaf. Sean was born deaf and is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), but he can speak English. He is of Irish-Russian ethnicity due to his father of Russian descent and his mother of Irish descent; Sean has American nationality.
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From an early age, Sean would put on comedy improv shows, with Tyler in charge of the lighting; the shows ignited his passion for performing. When he was a young child, he was especially interested in magic. and won first place at the World Children’s Magicians Festival in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
From grade school, he attended the Indiana School of the Deaf and in 2010 during his sophomore year won the title of Mr. Deaf Teen America. The Model Secondary School began its pageant for the deaf in 1999. Part of his duty as a winner was to travel across the US and spread awareness of the disability. His travels and performances led him to study remotely from California in 2011. He performed with the school’s art touring group, Vibrations, when he was in high school, signing Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” in American Sign Language. He performed with the band nationwide and the performances became popular not only live but also on YouTube where a video of the performance was posted.
To be acting career began in 2005, when he played the mischievous but lovable Sammy “Fingers” Samuelson in the film sequel, “The Sandlot 2”, which was narrated and directed by David Mickey Evans. In 2006, he co-starred with Michael Angarano as the supporting role of Young Trey in the movie “The Bondage”, directed and written by Eric Allen Bell. In 2008, he appeared as Nick in “The Legend of the Mountain Man” and as Wesley in “The Deaf Family”.
From 2011 to 2017, he starred in five seasons of “Switched at Birth”, moved to California to film the ABC Family series, and played the main character, Emmett Bledsoe, one of the two deaf characters on the show. Marlee Matlin played Melody Bledsoe, Emmett’s mother; Vanessa Marano and Katie Leclerc were also regular actors on the series.
Emmett is a photographer, rides a motorcycle and plays drums in a band. Sean was awarded the Deaf Nation Inspiration Award for Entertainment for the positive impact his role has had on the deaf community, and the series was recognized for encouraging people to learn American Sign Language and raising awareness of the deaf community. .
In 2011, Sean was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for TV Breakout Star. In an interview with Time magazine, Sean shared his experience playing Emmett, saying that although Emmett grew up deaf like himself, he has always been able to hear a little bit – he can hear sounds with a hearing aid and enjoys listening to music. He considers himself bilingual because he has the ability to speak and understand English.
He added that he appreciates that people took the initiative to learn American Sign Language after seeing the show. Sean explained that whenever he goes to a bakery or a restaurant, or anywhere in public, people thank him and sign something, to which he replies, “Where did you learn that?” and they reply, “From the show,” proving that “Switched at Birth” has had an incredible impact.
In “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” the Twentieth Century-Fox animated film released in 2012, Sean signed the film in American Sign Language for the DVD version. It can be seen during the film, displayed in a picture-in-picture window. In 2018, he appeared as Frank Bowe in the “Civil Rights” episode of the “Drunk History” series.
He co-stars with Sam Eliot in Netflix’s “The Society” from 2019, one of the main characters who is deaf and gay.
Sam’s best friends, Gordie (played by Jose Julian) and Becca Gelb (Gideon Adlon), both taught themselves American Sign Language to make it easier to communicate with him. Jack Mulhern plays Grizz, Sam’s friend, who is also learning to communicate with Sam after accidentally starting to learn British Sign Language. Sean spoke to Time magazine again when he joined the cast of “The Society” and talked about how the show approached sign language. He told the magazine that none of the actors knew how to draw, so then there was an American Sign Language coach on set who would help the actors learn their text in sign language – the cast would have classes on the weekends and during their free time on filming days. Sean expressed his admiration for Gideon Adlon, who plays Becca, and said her determination to learn sign language made a huge impression on him.
Gideon had one and a half to two weeks to learn her lines and sign them fluently, but she nailed them every episode. In his interview, he also talked about the movies “A Quiet Place” and “The Shape of Water,” two major Hollywood movies featuring sign language and deaf characters “…in different ways.”
When interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, he spoke about why deaf representation is so important. Sean explained that a good representation shows that deaf people don’t just ‘… move their hands…’ but that there is a whole culture, community and language. That deaf-to-hearing relationships contain multiple challenges, but are joyful and happy, just like ‘normal’ relationships. He has appeared in several music videos to give sign language interpretations and has given numerous motivational keynote speeches across the country.
One of the most famous versions of his American Sign Language is from Enrique Iglesias’ well-known song, “Hero” – Sean’s version has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube. In 2012, he performed “Hero” live in sign language at Disneyland’s inaugural SIGNin’ in the Street; the event celebrated creativity within the deaf community. In May 2019, he announced that he was writing a romantic film in American Sign Language. He has appeared in various public service commercials throughout his career. He plans to develop his comedy “The Sean Berdy Show,” which will feature skits, stand-up comedy, personal life stories, and other topics. He also wants to make more sign music videos.
He has said that he is the opposite of his ‘Switched at Birth’ character, Emmett, who is secluded and frosty; Sean describes herself as outgoing and playful.
He has suffered from bipolar disorder since he was 11 years old. He shared his struggles in June 2018, when he shared an Instagram post saying, “I’ve been hiding for so long, and I’m done with it because I know when I’m sharing – I’ll get more support.” He practices yoga and meditation, and goes on walks and hikes to help him cope with his disorder. He was dating Mary Harman but the couple have since split up, after which she got engaged and married Colin Whited, but Sean is apparently still single.
Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts
In his interview with theTVaddict.com, Sean stated that his favorite actor is Jim Carrey, who has inspired him from an early age; his dream would be to star opposite Jim in a major comedy film. He gushed, ‘He [Jim] is one of the great sources of inspiration in my young life, and he still is.’ His fluency and speed in signing have earned him the nickname ‘signing ninja’.
When he was two years old, his aunt jokingly said he would become an actor like Marlee Matlin, who ironically played his mother in “Switched at Birth” 15 years later. He is regularly recognized and praised for his work in revolutionizing people’s interest in the deaf community and learning sign language.
He has reddish brown hair and blue eyes. He is 1.78 m tall and weighs about 68 kg.
Wealth and salary
As of early 2020, his net worth is estimated to be over $2 million.