Photography by Evan Guttmann | EvanWasHerePhotography.com
One of the most beautiful people in the world- inside and out, Nyle DiMarco is taking the world by storm and using his sudden fame to spread awareness around the world about deaf culture with a mission to improve the lives of deaf people. A native New Yorker, DiMarco was born fourth generation deaf along with his brothers, Neil and Nico- who happens to be a successful DJ. Proving that being deaf is not a disability, Nyle attended Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the only liberal arts university in the world for the deaf, where he earned a degree in Mathematics. Though he intended to pursue a career as a math professor, he was inspired by his math teacher to challenge his own abilities and not let the perceived notions that being Deaf was a disability hold him back from pursuing his dreams and experiencing adventure. It seemed inevitable that DiMarco would be in the spotlight where he was discovered by America’s Next Top Model from his Instagram account. Not only is he the first deaf contestant in the show’s history, and the second male to ever win, he’s also went on to win Dancing with the Stars with Peta Murgatoryd five months later. He views deafness as an advantage in modeling and dancing because he is accustomed to conveying messages without speaking.
In addition to running the Nyle DiMarco Foundation, Nyle is also starring in the Hulu comedy, Difficult People this year. DiMarco does not consider himself to be disabled by deafness and he sees his media profile as an opportunity to bring awareness to Deaf culture. DiMarco is passionate about literacy, anti-bullying campaigns and advocacy within the Deaf Community and here he sits with Resident to show his personal side while discussing what’s next on his horizon.
How did you get started in the modeling business?
Back in 2007 when I was 18, a Deaf photographer, who is now a close friend, Tate Tullier told me that I should consider pursuing modeling and that he wanted to shoot me. We collaborated but I never considered because I was in school pursuing a BA degree in mathematics. After graduating, ANTM found me and the rest is history.
Did you have an interest in dance while growing up? Were you inspired by your twin brother?
I never danced nor was I inspired by him. I had different interests!
Are you very close with your brothers?
We are very close. I love that we all are different and yet so close.
Tell me a bit about your family and childhood and what it was like being a twin.
My family is full of love. We grew up with our grandparents and to this day, we still feel that this is a complete family. We eat pasta every Wednesday and Sunday. We’re also one loud family. Italians! It is kind of funny because growing up I’ve never felt that I had a twin. We were so different, especially our features, yet so close. Many confuse us as best friends. It’s like living with a best friend growing up… but with a twin… even better!
What do you feel is your strongest sense?
My eyes. I’m visual and super alert. There is a research proving that without being able to hear, you increase your visual ability. It’s like having a power.
Where do you call home these days?
New York City. I was born in Queens.
Do you have any vacation plans?
I just had a weeklong vacation in the Hamptons!
You’ve spent a lot of time in NYC, what are your favorite places?
Central Park where I can run. The High Line where I can enjoy the view. Numero 28 restaurant for their pizza and espresso!
What do you like to do for fun? What is a typical day for you?
I like to play sports. I play basketball when I can. My typical day would be going to gym and for a run… and end it with swimming!
How does it feel to be the champion of 2 reality television shows?
It is amazing. It’s not about me winning but about me now having a voice- a huge platform where I can change Deaf lives. I realize that I might be the only one to win within five months, if not the only one to win both.
Do you have plans to be an actor?
Yes. My friend and I are also writing a series together. I have a feeling it’ll be amazing.
What are some of your favorite tv shows?
I just finished Stranger Things and it is now my favorite show. I freaked out when the entire series felt like a ride in the 80s and the 80s classic films. I never thought I would feel like a kid again. Amazing TV show… I’m obsessed and addicted!
Who has been the most inspirational person to you?
My mother. She raised us singled handedly. My favorite quote from her, “Always be yourself,” because by being myself I am where I am.
If you could get any fashion campaign who would you want to represent? Which celebrity would you most want to work with?
Armani and Gigi Hadid!
You are big on social media and connect with fans around the world what do you think is the next biggest frontier?
I think the next biggest frontier is uniting the world and helping better Deaf lives overseas. Deaf people have it a lot worse outside of the U.S.
What was the memorable comment you have received from a fan?
“I would become Deaf for Nyle.” It’s not strange because I loved it!!
Tell me a little about your foundation and some of the current projects that it is launching and making headway with.
Thank you for asking — my foundation (NDF) is important to me! Currently we are focusing on Deaf and hard of hearing children and their families. Research shows that the greatest risk to Deaf and hard of hearing children is insufficient exposure to a first language at an early age. From age zero to five our brains are like a sponge, absorbing a great deal of information and acquiring the foundations of language. Our ability to recognize and manipulate the patterns that make up languages—our ability to communicate, to read and write, and to think critically and express ourselves—began with the things that we were exposed to when we were babies. If a baby doesn’t have access to information during that critical time span, then that child will have to play catch up in acquiring language. It’s an uphill battle for the child before even entering kindergarten. It’s not fair. There are 32 million deaf children worldwide, and the vast majority of them aren’t getting the early access and exposure needed for a solid language foundation. The rate of illiteracy is staggering. Our initial efforts will center on empowering families with knowledge and resources on how to give their deaf or hard of hearing child language and literacy. With these critical skills, the sky is the limit for deaf and hard of hearing children.
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH NYLE