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“All the Light We Cannot See” Series Casts Blind Actresses

Prior to shooting the series adapted from the Pulitzer-Prize-winning, best-selling novel All the Light We Cannot See, the global casting call announced that “actresses who are blind or (have) low vision are especially encouraged to apply,” as announced in a previous issue of this Bulletin. The resulting casting fulfilled this request. This four-part Netflix series recounts the story of a girl who is blind, Marie-Laure, living in occupied France during World War II and her experiences with a German soldier named Werner. The actresses playing Marie-Laure, Nell Sutton at age 7 and Aria Mia Loberti 10 years later, are both blind. This marks the “first time blind lead characters in a major television show were being played by actors who were themselves blind,” as reported in an article in The New York Times. This article stated further that “…the attention that went into accommodating those actors, and making the show as true as possible to the experiences of people who are blind, was significant.” The production involved a “blindness consultant,” Joe Strechay, who has been legally blind since age 19 and now describes himself as being “’totally blind.’” Strechay, who has previously worked on other television series, provided consultation on all adjustments made on the set. These included such modifications as adding tactile markings to the floor that Loberti and Sutton could use to orient their positions, allowing them time on the set prior to shooting to acclimate, and writing the series title in braille on the directors’ chairs and trailers. He also reviewed the daily rushes to provide feedback on how the main character’s blindness was portrayed onscreen. Strechay’s feedback led to “frequent alterations. ”One example is a scene where Daniel, Marie-Laure’s father (played by Mark Ruffalo) teaches her how to use a cane when walking down a busy street. When Co-Producer Dan Levine thought Daniel should stand next to the curb, Strechay corrected him, stating that “Daniel would want it the other way around…so Marie-Laure could orient herself by the sound of the traffic and feel the curb with her cane.” These and other modifications and recommendations from Strechay were important to Director Shawn Levy “’not only because it seemed right, but because it ultimately made for a better show.’” Read more in The New York Times article announcing that ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ Casts Blind Actresses.