A su­per ex­pe­ri­ence

Ne­wark na­tive per­forms in sign lan­guage at Su­per Bowl

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JANE BELLMYER jbellmyer@ches­pub.com

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.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF ALEXAN­DRIA WAILES

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.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Be­sides be­ing a sign lan­guage in­ter­preter, Alexan­dria Wailes is also an ac­com­plished ac­tor, di­rec­tor and chore­og­ra­pher.

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