It’s important to maintain an appreciation for the arts, even in the zombie apocalypse. With that in mind, EW can exclusively report that AMC’s The Walking Dead has picked up one of Broadway’s most celebrated performers of the year to appear in season 9. Lauren Ridloff, who is deaf and was nominated for a 2018 Tony in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play category for her role in Children of a Lesser God, will be joining the show for a multi-episode arc as Connie.
Connie has been described as “a seasoned survivor deft at using her senses to read people, situations, and trouble. Her character is deaf and uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate.” WARNING: Spoilers from the comic on which the show is based to follow.
There is indeed a Connie in The Walking Dead comic, who arrives in issue 127, right at the point the TV adaptation has just reached, complete with a time-jump. In the comic, Connie is part of a new group of survivors led by a character named Magna that is brought back to live in Alexandria. It would make sense that Ridloff is playing the TV version of that Connie, although the comic version is not deaf.
Crowned Miss Deaf America in 2000, Ridloff had a fascinating path to stage stardom. A former teacher, she took a job as an ASL tutor for Kenny Leon, who was directing a Broadway stage revival of Children of Lesser God. After filling in at a table read because no actress had yet been hired for the lead role of Sarah Norman, Ridloff landed the part, starring opposite Joshua Jackson. She ended up nabbing Outer Critics Circle and Tony nominations for her performance, ultimately losing out on both to Glenda Jackson for Three Tall Women.
Ridloff becomes the show’s first deaf actress, but she’s not the current cast’s only Tony nominee. Danai Gurira (Michonne) also received a Best Play nomination in 2016 for writing Eclipse, starring Lupita Nyong’o.
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