Lydia Callis: New York Mayor Bloomberg’s sign language interpreter becomes Superstorm Sandy breakout star
Bloomberg’s sign language interpreter becomes Superstorm’s breakout star
When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed concerned citizens about storm damage and safety issues, all eyes were on his sign language interpreter Lydia Callis, 30.
Callis’ larger-than-life facial expressions and dramatic gestures have provided a rare moment of fun during the unfolding natural disaster that has left at least 55 people dead and millions still without power.
Her performances have made petite, immaculately dressed Callis a viral web sensation and she has gained a legion of fans on social media sites including Twitter and Tumblr.
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Quietly brilliant: For many, the best thing about Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Hurricane Sandy briefings was interpreter Lydia Callis (left)
Ms. Callis in action: Viewers praised her impressive array of facial expressions
New York magazine wrote that Callis has given people “a legitimate reason to smile” during these trying times.”
“Unlike Bloomberg’s own stilted Spanish, another highlight of the updates, Callis’ signing is both lightning fast and emotional, her animated face lighting up and departing happily as she goes, much like a guitarist during a blistering solo.”
‘Lightning-fast and emotional’: Ms Callis seems unwilling to embrace her newfound fame and has turned down requests for interviews simply saying ‘I’m honored to have been able to spread the word’.
WHO IS LYDIA CALLIS?
Some facts are known about Callis:
She graduated in 2010 with a degree in interpreting from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Her mother and three siblings are all deaf, so she has been interpreting since she was a child.
She also works as an American Sign Language interpreter for schools, hospitals and businesses.
“I’m telling you, the real star of Mayor Bloomberg’s press conferences is that animated sign language translator he has. I can’t look away,” Twitter user @JCamm_ wrote on Oct. 29.
“Love that lady,” one commenter wrote on a YouTube video of her performance. “Stupid news blocks her from TV so they can show footage of something. But this lady is great.’
Callis has so far turned down requests for interviews, though she recently told the New York Post: “I’m here to serve the deaf and hard of hearing. I’m just happy, and I’m honored, to have been able to get the message out… that’s what it’s all about.”
There are at least seven schools for American Sign Language and the Deaf in New York City and Long Island.
VIDEO: Watch footage of Lydia Callis paired with Ace of Base song ‘The Sign’: