Emmanuelle Laborit: The Cry of the Gull


Emmanuelle is a French Deaf actress who in 1993 won the prestigious Molière Award for Best Newcomer Actress for her performance in the theatrical version of the film Children of a Lesser God. Taking advantage of her celebrity for the Molière Award, in 1995 she published The Cry of the Gull, in which, through her own biography, she introduces the reader to her world and the difficulties that, like any Deaf person, she had to overcome until she found her own identity and was socially recognised.

This book was one of the first works written by a Deaf person who used Sign Language in Europe and was also translated into several languages. In English, it was first published in 1998 by Gallaudet University. The synopsis reads as follows:
French actress Emmanuelle Laborit begins her autobiography with a simple explanation of the difference sign language made in her life: With the help of sign language I understood that yesterday was behind me and tomorrow was in front of me. She learned this at age seven, and soon after, she realized that being deaf could be a positive part of her identity. After a lengthy period of trouble in class and at home, she determined to finish school and fight for the rights of other deaf French people. She also took up acting, leading to her triumph as Sarah in the French production of Children of a Lesser God. She was the first deaf French actor to win the Moliere Award in the category of best new talent. Her book The Cry of the Gull is both a revealing and encouraging story for young people everywhere.
Emmanuelle was born in 1971 and, in addition to being a theatre actress, she starred in several films but, without a doubt, theatre is her greatest success, as evidenced by the Molière Award. In the following video you can see Emmanuelle taking the award (from minute 0:36):

The video shows only a small part of the award ceremony. The complete video can be seen on the official website of the INA, l'Institut National de L'audiovisuel (National Audiovisual Institute). You can also see one of Emmanuelle's latest appearances on television (TV5 Monde) in the following video showing some words in French Sign Language:

In October 2018, Emmanuelle co-directed and performed in French Sign Language a music video of the French singer Carmen Maria Vega, which shows that Emmanuelle is still focused on the production of culture with Sign Language as an empowering difference.


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