DEANNE BRAY: "LITTLE SISTER"
by Stan Griffin, Deaf Friends International Special Contributor
Deanne Bray and Sue Thomas have a lot in common. For one thing, Bray is starring in a new TV series on PAX, "Sue Thomas, F. B. Eye," about Ms. Thomas’ experiences in the F. B. I. For another, both women are severely deaf. Yet another similarity is that both sets of parents insisted they learn to speak and read lips as well as studying sign language. To accomplish this, both were sent through intensive learning programs and centers to strengthen their language skills. Bray says, "I had to read out loud for 30 minutes every day ..."
Thomas serves as a consultant for the TV production. One of her jobs was to help in choosing the actress who would portray her. She told the producers it should be a deaf performer because " ... only she would have the true, first-hand knowledge and insight into the isolation that deafness can bring to the everyday aspects of living in a hearing world ..."
When Thomas saw Bray’s audition tape, her words to the producers were "Don’t look any further. You have your actress ..." She saw in Bray " ... vulnerability ... (and) an inner strength ..." that brought tears to her eyes. Thomas could tell that she understood how it was "to exist in silence."
Since Bray was cast in the series, she and Thomas have become close friends. "She makes me look good ... (and has) become my little sister ... we’ve bonded ... our spirits have connected ..." The two plan to spend Christmas together this year. When introducing Bray, she says "I would like you to meet the new and improved Sue Thomas!"
Reviews of early "Sue Thomas, F. B. Eye" episodes have been very complimentary to Bray. Her enunciation is described as "easily understandable," and her gift for facial expression is praised. She’s called "appealing," "charming," "convincing," and "easy on the eyes," with a " ... fresh, new face that lights up the screen."
Bray is a native Californian and has been acting for over 10 years. She attended California State University Northridge, earning a B. A. Degree in Biology. Currently she has almost completed work on a Master’s Degree in Education
Bray has had wide experience in deaf theater; in fact, she was discovered while performing with the "Prism West" deaf dancing group at a deaf festival. She has acted in theatrical productions, films, and made a few guest appearances on TV series such as "C.S.I.," "Diagnosis: Murder,"and "The Pretender." She has appeared in many projects for the widely praised Deaf West Theater in California.
For the past three years, Bray has taught math and science to deaf and hard-of-hearing students in East Los Angeles. There she set up a literacy program, "The Little Bookworm Club," for those students
She is active in a number of organizations and serves as second Vice-Chairperson on the council board of the Greater Los Angeles Council on Deafness.
Bray lives in North Hollywood with her husband, Troy Kotsur, a deaf actor who is also involved with the Deaf West Theater.
Bray hopes that Thomas’ story " ... can ... be a bridge between different worlds ..."