Spotlight on Storytellers: An ASL artist showcasing intersections, culture and music on stage

In honor of Pride Month, theater artist Brandon Cousin Maddox steps up at Storytellers Spotlight to showcase the beauty of what intersections look like on stage. The New York-based artist is GODA, which stands for Grandchild of Deaf (Deaf) Adults.

Kazen-Maddox identifies as non-binary, and is also biracial and the pronouns they/them.

“It’s important for me to sign basically, for almost everything I do,” said Cousin-Maddox. “This is how I communicate. If someone asks me not to sign, it’s like they’re asking me to be quiet or suppressing a part of me.”

The New York-based artist was inspired by their grandparents to become a storyteller. First, on the Cousin-Maddox maternal side, both grandparents are deaf and taught them American Sign Language. Then their paternal grandmother, a black woman, whom Cousin Maddox describes as fierce and admirable, taught them to embrace culture, dance, and music.

They began translating the stage in the Disney Tony Award-winning musical “Newsies” in San Francisco. He quickly fell in love with the art and the level of implication that the interpretation created.

“It’s a skill. It’s a talent, and I’m happy to have my own personal relationship with music,” said Cousin Maddox. “My unique relationship with sign language, along with my relationship with dance, and the combination of all of those things, to be able to express it to an audience.”

Kazen-Maddox feels the intersections are “complicated but beautiful”.

Cousin Maddox put it, “I identify as a dual-spirited person. The masculine and feminine energy is in me.”

During Pride Month, Kazen-Maddox has the honor of highlighting the queer, non-binary, deaf, black, and artsy communities.

Watch the full story in the video above.

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