A super experience
Newark native performs in sign language at Super Bowl
Before the coin was tossed, before Justin Timberlake performed and long before the green and white confetti fell, Alexandria Wailes made sure deaf and hard of hearing viewers were involved in the opening festivities of Super Bowl LII.
Wailes, who is deaf, provided American Sign Language interpretation for singers Leslie Odom Jr. and Pink during the opening ceremony in U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Born in Wilmington and raised in Newark, Wailes is used to performing in American Sign Language in front of large crowds. Through a spokesperson, she said she signed Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World” at the 1993
Inaugural Gala for President Bill Clinton. Since then, Wailes has gone on to perform on stages of all sizes, on and off Broadway as an actor and a dancer.
She attended what is now known as the Delaware School for the Deaf, then transferred to mainstream public schools before finishing her education at Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, D.C.
It was the National Association for the Deaf that brought Wailes to the National Football League stage where she provided ASL as Odom sang “America the Beautiful” and then accompanied Pink for the singing of the national anthem.
Wailes said she was in performance mode leading up to and during her time on the global stage. It wasn’t until she was finished that she grasped just how large was her audience.
“It was a great time, and it happened so quickly,” she said.
Although she rehearsed with both singers and got a quick photo op, she didn’t get to talk with Pink much. She said they met Feb. 2 for a rehearsal, but added it was more “an acknowledgement from a distance since Pink was battling the flu.”
Because both songs are well known, the rehearsal was more technical than artistic.
“It was mostly related for the timing of getting on and off the field, the choreography of the flag bearers, the choir, the unraveling of the flag and the guards as well as the operations of the cameras,” she said.”Behind the scenes, one experiences how well-oiled the machine is.”
Wailes said she would gladly do it again, but added the deaf community needs broader representation.
“I would (like to see) more representation from the diverse community of Deaf people in this countr y,” Wailes said.
Sign language interpreter Alexandria Wailes rehearses “America The Beautiful” with Leslie Odom Jr. prior to the Super Bowl. Wailes, who is deaf, provided interpretation for singers during the opening ceremony in Minneapolis.
Besides being a sign language interpreter, Alexandria Wailes is also an accomplished actor, director and choreographer.