An Actor’s Perspective on Advocating and Learning from Your Characters

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    From Ohio to Broadway: John McGinty

    Starring in Alice in Wonderland around the age of 13, impacted John McGinty’s future career. It was during that time where he discovered his passion for being on stage and found his self-esteem improving. Even though he went to college for finance, after working at the Deaf West Theatre in L.A. he ignored his finance degree and focused on theater. “The rest is history,” he says.

    Children of a Lesser God

    McGinty has had many roles in varying films, TV shows and theatre productions. His most recent role is Orin in the Broadway play, Children of a Lesser God. The play is about a speech teacher who falls in love with a student who is Deaf, and the challenges they face due to their differences. Even though the play is set in the 70s, there are issues that are relevant today, such as the fact that Deaf and hard of hearing individuals are still fighting for accessibility.

    A big reason that McGinty enjoyed playing the character of Orin is because he’s the truth teller of the story and is completely advocating. “When I played this character, I learned to really appreciate why Orin in the story tends to speak out about what is right,” he says. “From now on, I want to have more courage, so I really thank that to the character Orin.”

    Advocating for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

    McGinty does try to be an advocate for the Deaf and hard of hearing community when it comes to offering more opportunities and opening doors for them. For the musical, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, he auditioned for the role of Quasimodo. He was the first actor, who happens to be Deaf, in the musical, and now there’s another production of the show with another Deaf actor. “I feel like I did my job,” he says. “I hope that other Deaf and hard of hearing people in the community would do the same.”

    He not only wants to make sure the younger generation doesn’t have to face the obstacles that are present today, but he also feels that it’s his responsibility to help people be inclusive and supportive for them. His advice for those who aspire to be actors is to first, finish school. “Then, in this industry it’s really important to know yourself best,” McGinty says. “And enjoy the ride.”

    McGinty loved each character he’s played for different reasons, but his favorites are Quasimodo from The Hunchback and Orin from Children of a Lesser God. “Of course both characters happen to be Deaf and both have different purposes in today’s environment,” he says. “I still related to both roles, and it was an honor to do it.”

    Learning to Listen to One Another

    Children of a Lesser God ended on May 27, however there are messages people can take with them from the production. In the play, every character has their own way of thinking, and no one is right or wrong. “The problem is that no one really meets in the middle, and that goes for today,“ he says. “I think the important message for the audience is to listen to other people and stop assuming.”