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Carmen Meissner: A cochlear implant recipient who guest starred in Switched at Birth

August 31st, 2011 by | Tags: , | Comments Off

Carmen Meissner, a high school student who is a cochlear implant recipient, guest starred a small role on the first episode of Switched at Birth as a student at the Carlton School for the Deaf.  She played a role in a scene where she told Daphne that she did a good job in playing basketball.  While there are a few video clips on Switched at Birth’s website featuring Carmen’s story, I had the pleasure interview her about her life as a cochlear implant recipient and interests in acting.

When was your deafness first diagnosed and how did your parents first learn about it?

I was born completely deaf. However, my parents did not know I was deaf until I was about two years old. My dad was the first to find out I was deaf. When they first found out I was deaf, my parents did hours of research to learn more about deafness.

What is the cause of your deafness?

I suffer from spontaneous mutation, which resulted my deafness.

How did your parents learn about cochlear implants and why did they choose to provide you this technology?

After doing hours and hours of research, my parents came across the House Ear Institute.  At the House Year Institute, they were educated about the cochlear implant.  When they saw the way, it had changed many deaf kids lives they knew they had to get it for me. They only wanted the best for me. I am so blessed that they made the decision to give me the cochlear implant

What influenced your parents’ decision to teach you listening and spoken language?

They really wanted me to be able to communicate with them and the rest of the hearing world. My parents felt like it would be the best thing for me to learn how to listen and how to speak.  They felt like listening and speaking are very important tools to have in order to communicate well with hearing people.

How old were you when you first received your cochlear implant?

I was two and a half when I first got the cochlear implant.

How did your parents teach you to learn to hear and speak?

My parents took me to a preschool called John Tracy Clinic. John Tracy Clinic is a preschool for deaf and hard of hearing kids who are learning how to speak. At John Tracy Clinic, I learned everything I needed to know in order to speak

How has cochlear implants made a difference in your life?

I was hearing sounds I have never heard before. It was less frustrating when I was trying to communicate with my parents. I was able to communicate more with my peers.

How and when did you first become interested in acting?

I first started getting interested in acting when I was about eight or nine years old. My interest for acting started when I joined a deaf organization called No Limits. No Limits Is a program that teaches deaf and hard of hearing kids how to speak through acting. The Director of No Limits is Michelle Christie Adams. After my first play with No Limits, I fell in love with acting.

Carmen with Michelle.

How did you learn about the casting call for Switched at Birth?

Well I first heard about the casting call from my mom, who had gotten a call from Michelle that day. It is actually a funny story. A casting agent had called Michelle asking if Michelle knew any blonde hair blue eyed actresses that could play the part of Daphne. When Michelle heard that they were looking for a blonde hair blue eyed actress she could not resist but to call me right away. That is how I found out about it.

Could you explain your experiences in auditioning for a part on Switched at Birth?

My experiences from the audition were crazy considering all that has happened. It was my very first audition I never expected to get so far, nor did I expect that I would make it to network.  I always remembered nerves I would get before every audition. However, I was always more excited then nervous, since it was such an BIG opportunity for me. I will never forget the emotion rollercoaster it gave my family and me. I was very fortunate to get so far on my first audition. I was also very fortunate to get to act with Constance Marie at network. Last but not least, I am so blessed that God gave me such a wonderful supporting family. I could not have done this whole auditioning process without the support of my family.

Carmen on the set with Katie Leclerc

How were your experiences in playing a small role on Switched at Birth?

My experiences acting for Switched At Birth was better then I could ask for! They gave me my own personal trailer with my name on it. Which was extremely cool! I got to get my hair and make up done before I went to shoot for the scene. I also got to hangout with some of the stars in Switched At Birth such as Vanessa Marano, Katie LeClerc, and D.W. Moffett. It was such a blast acting on set with Katie Leclerc. She is a very sweet person. I loved talking to her. I was living the dream I always wanted.

Are you currently taking any acting classes and if you do, where and how often?

I just recently started taking acting classes. Ironically, I ended up in the same acting classes that Vanessa Marano (Bay) is in. The classes I take are every Saturday from 4-7.

Do you have any upcoming roles for any plays or any kind of shows?

Well I have not done much auditioning so unfortunately I do not have any upcoming plays or roles. Hopefully I will be appearing in future episodes for Switched At Birth. Wish me luck!

Do you have plans to go into acting career?

Well, for now I am just taking it one day at a time. However, I am planning to continue acting. I will continue to keep auditioning for TV shows, etc. Keep an eye out for me.

Where would you like to see yourself in ten years from now?

I would like to see myself continuing to help and inspire others whether is through acting or not. It would be such a dream to see myself successfully acting ten years from now, but whatever happens is in Gods hands.


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