LOS ANGELES — As the entertainment industry heads into award season, Sound of Metal and its cast are receiving critical acclaim.
In many ways, this was the role Paul Raci has been preparing for his entire life.
What You Need To Know
- Sound of Metal is being recognized for its portrayal of the deaf community
- The drama tells the story of a musician navigating a sudden loss of hearing
- Riz Ahmed has been nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Lead Actor category
- Paul Raci plays the leader of a sober living for the deaf who mentors Ahmed's character through hearing loss
"Sign language is my native tongue," said Raci, the son of two deaf parents. "I learned to sign before I was speaking."
In the critically acclaimed film, Raci plays the leader of a sober house for the deaf. His character mentors a musician, played by Riz Ahmed, navigating his own sudden loss of hearing.
Although he can hear, Raci noted that he has stayed in sync with the deaf community his entire life.
"When you’re a kid, and you see your father and your mother trying to relate and have connections with people in just everyday life, it’s frustrating and you get sensitive to it," said Raci. "My father felt oppressed by the hearing man. Me as a little boy, I started taking that personally and I felt oppressed with my father."
Raci has taken that feeling of oppression and turned it into art. Throughout his life, he has performed for the deaf community. If he’s not acting, you might catch Raci performing with his Los Angeles-based Black Sabbath tribute band. As "Ozzie," he signs the lyrics as he sings.
"We got 40 deaf people that show up at every gig, checking out Black Sabbath in American Sign Language, and they love it."
Raci added that he knows what this movie and his role means to the deaf community. His childhood, which he spent navigating the world for his two deaf parents, shaped his perspective. He explained how he sees a diverse world that needs more representation in film.
"Disabled people and the deaf community want to see themselves on the screen," said Raci. "That screen with all those white guys running around on it, that ain't the way the world is."
He carries his parents with him in everything he does — parents who are proud of him not just for playing a deaf character, but for showing the deaf community in a real light.
This moment in Raci's career is one that’s being recognized by peers and critics as well.
"This was the role I was writing for myself," he said. "So what does it mean? It means everything."
Songs of praise for Sound of Metal have made Paul Raci’s wait all the worthwhile.