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Interview: Chella Man Talks Art As A Way of Survival and His Acting Debut in ‘Titans’

You may already know about Chella Man and his story, but if you don’t, worry not as you’ll hear more about this inspiring and multi-talented individual sooner or later. Chella Man is a deaf, gender-queer, trans-masculine artist as well as model, TEDx speaker, student at New York University and now actor. It was recently announced that Chella Man will be taking on the role of Deathstroke’s son, Jericho, for the upcoming second season of DC Universe’s live-action original series Titans.

His upcoming role in Titans may be his acting debut but Chella has gained a substantial following on his YouTube channel that he started in May 2017. There, he shares videos on his transition, sign language tutorials and his struggles with gender dysmorphia, and every now and again, his subscribers get to see an insight of his relationship with his girlfriend and photographer, MaryV.

I had the opportunity to talk with Chella and get to know more about himself as well as his acting debut in DC’s Titans.

For the readers who don’t know who you are, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a 20-year-old deaf, gender-queer, trans-masculine artist who has given talks across the US on the intersections of his identities (including a TEDx talk) and become the first deaf, trans-masculine model to sign with IMG as well as being cast on DC’s Titans TV show.

You’ve been very open with a lot of stuff going on in your life especially with you transitioning and going live on your Instagram when you take your testosterone shots. Was there a particular reason you wanted to be so open with everything?

Testosterone shot day is my favourite of the week. Every time it rolls around I remind myself of my privilege to access testosterone and inject it safely. Sadly, this is rare as some individuals in power make decisions (rooted in sexism and/or transphobia) to withhold the right to make choices for our own bodies. One of my goals is to normalize this weekly ritual I am lucky enough to do, which is why I share it openly on Instagram Live.

In an interview with TomboyX, you say that “Art is literally a way of survival for me.” Can you explain what you mean by that?

I have always been an artist. However, due to my lack of terminology to explain myself authentically…I turned to art to form a new way of communicating. This allowed me to let out my emotions, just not in the form of words. You see, Art has always been my way of survival.

You have a few intersections of your identity and I’ve read so many comments about how your representation as a deaf, gender-queer, trans-masculine Jewish-Asian, mean so much to them. How does this make you feel?

It means the world as this is exactly what I was missing growing up. It is my absolute honour to be some form of representation for others.

You’re a multi-talented individual and pretty much everyone who watches you on your channel or knows you are aware of this. When the news of you being cast as ‘Jericho’ in DC Titans it actually came as a surprise to me as I had no idea you were interested in acting. Was acting something you’ve always wanted to do?

I never imagined myself to end up acting; however, I never foresaw myself modelling either!

What does portraying ‘Jericho’ mean to you?

As a Deaf individual who uses sign language on a daily basis, Jericho’s primary mode of communication hits close to home. I RARELY saw sign language authentically represented on screen growing up, so this incredible opportunity has made my heart soar. I do not believe there is ever one individual “best” for a role. In general, every person holds a unique set of talents to their passions that they have the potential of carrying with them. I hope to bring something special to Jericho.

What is one thing you’d like to share with the world?

Never underestimate the power of telling your story.

 

Be on the lookout for Chella Man on the upcoming season of Titans and if you’d like to keep up with Chella, be sure to follow him on his Twitter, Instagram and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

 

Featured Image via Ryan Duffin 

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Zoë Selesi
Written By

Zoë is a nineteen-year-old from England currently living in New York for university studying Magazine Journalism. Zoë is a lover of all music genres especially alternative R&B, UK Grime and Korean music.

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