Carlos Soroa, Deaf Actor in Netflix's Welcome to Eden

For the first time in the history of television productions in Spain, Sign Language has a prominent role in a major production by Deaf actor Carlos Soroa, in the Netflix series Welcome to Eden.

Still from the series Welcome to Eden with Carlos Soroa (photo: Netflix)

Who is Carlos Soroa?

Carlos Soroa is Deaf person in real life and his mother tongue is Spanish Sign Language, since a large part of his family is also composed of Deaf people. His vocation for acting began as a child and in his youth he worked in some short films but his first real opportunity came with the short film 'Yes to everything' (Sí a todo), directed by Roberto Pérez Toledo in 2016, which reached almost two million views on YouTube.

Before that, Carlos had small appearances in two television series and later, also under the orders of Roberto Pérez Toledo, he starred in a play at the National Drama Centre entitled 'Basic manual of Sign Language to break hearts' which was a continuation of the successful short film 'Sí a todo' (Yes to everything).

Welcome to Eden is the first major production in which Carlos participates and which may give him great visibility in his artistic career. Since the premiere of the series, Google searches for this young deaf actor have skyrocketed around the world, but mainly in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and the United States:

Carlos hopes that this visibility will also serve other Deaf people and Sign Language:

I would like to show that deaf people are perfectly skilled, to make Sign Language visible as an everyday thing in order to be seen as an actor who happens to be deaf and not the other way around, a deaf who is an actor.

You can follow Carlos Soroa on Instagram: instagram.com/carlosoroaa


Sign Language in Eden

Some of the characters on the island of Eden also know Sign Language and it is even key at some point in the series. Carlos has stated that he has felt included at all times during the filming, as he has had a Sign Language interpreter throughout the production and even his co-stars have learned Sign Language:

I am very, very happy, very grateful to the producers, to Netflix, because they have given me facilities, they have worked without any kind of clichés, they have taught Sign Language to the colleagues because they all wanted to learn it to be able to communicate [...] I hope that this can continue to be seen in other projects and help to raise awareness and that other platforms take the example and see that including deaf people can be an opportunity

Despite this, the series does not avoid some shots in which Sign Language is not understood because they have opted for shots and cuts for aesthetic purposes over the intelligibility of the signed dialogue, as has happened in so many other series and films. It would be similar to a choppy spoken dialogue, making it difficult for hearing people to understand, which is only done to convey to the viewer something more important than the dialogue itself.

Recently, the film CODA, winner of 3 Oscars in 2022, highlighted the importance of the professional figure of the linguistic consultant, more common in American or British productions. This professional is usually a person who has been deaf since birth or who became deaf at an early age and whose first language is Sign Language or who is completely fluent in it. They have a clear understanding of Deaf culture, the communicative advantages of Sign Language in some situations and knowledge of film language. His/her functions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Support casting work to find deaf actors and actresses with the appropriate Sign Language skills to fit the character.
  • Support anyone during production who needs to communicate in Sign Language on the screen, similar to a voice coach for hearing people.
  • Support director in finding the optimal translation of the script into Sign Language.
  • Ensure that on-screen Sign Language framing and sight lines are clear and understandable to the audience, especially for Deaf viewers.
  • Ensure that the cultural characteristics of Deaf people are authentically represented where appropriate.
  • Teaching Sign Language to any person in the production, both performers and technical crew, to facilitate communication with Deaf people on set.

The CODA film had two Directors of Artistic Sign Language (linguistic consultants) as well as Sign Language interpreters during the filming: Anne Tomasetti and Alexandria Wailes. In the following video they explain their work (American Sign Language and English subtitles):


The Series Has Been a Worldwide Success

In the first two weeks since its premiere, Welcome to Eden has placed in the top 10 most watched series on Netflix in 82 countries, with more than 62 million hours watched. In addition, in 39 countries it has been the number 1 most watched series in the week of May 9-15. Although it has received mixed reviews, these audience numbers prove that the series is working:

But their hosts keep the cards close to their chest, providing a mysterious and thrilling series on Netflix. Welcome to Eden enjoys the scenario-based drama while coating it with teen tropes and a sniff of sci-fi to keep the audience intrigued (Daniel Hart, Ready Steady Cut)

The Spanish deaf community has turned out in support of Carlos Soroa. In addition to the large number of posts shared on social media showing their satisfaction at seeing Carlos in this production, the Spanish National Confederation of the Deaf (CNSE) itself has also applauded his incorporation into the series and hopes that it will open the way for other deaf artists.

Carlos has also caught the attention of the general media, he is continuously publishing interviews, which he is using as a reminder that there is a lot of talent among deaf people.

I am happy to think that 'Welcome to Eden' has been the first contribution to this in Spain and I hope that there will continue to be many more roles for deaf actors and that it does not remain a fad.

 

Season 2

Many people have been searching the Internet for information on whether there will be a season 2 of the series. The lead actresses and actors are frequently asked about it trying to get the scoop but they don't let go. It is known that in March 2022, before the premiere of the series on Netflix, the pre-production process for a second season was already underway, as the production company needed to manage the necessary authorizations for the new locations in Teruel.

This news together with the good audience reached, the general interest and the open ending of the first season make us think that there will be season 2, but Netflix is well known for discontinuing productions halfway through or even canceling successful series, so we will have to wait until a month after the premiere of the series to have the official confirmation, the minimum time Netflix usually takes to announce the next season.

In the event that the second season is greenlit, it is very likely that it will not premiere until 2023. The first season was shot in 2021 and premiered the following year, so if production timelines remain the same, season 2 could be expected before summer 2023.

Presentation of the cast of the series Welcome to Eden at the press conference in April 2022


Where was it filmed?

The locations and buildings in which the series takes place have a great attractive. You may wonder if these houses really exist or if they are just a digital creation and where the series was filmed. The circular construction, the headquarters of the Eden Foundation in the series, really exists and is located in the province of Teruel (Spain) built in 2017 by the company Solo Houses. From the sky it looks like a large circular concrete ring and you can see it on Google Maps here. In the following video you can see both this circular construction and the square house where Astrid and Erik's characters live in the series:

Regarding the locations, the island where Eden is set is not real but the locations are: mainly Lanzarote, Teruel and Girona. Most of the interior and urban scenes were shot in Barcelona.


Cala Treumal, in Lloret de Mar, where the Eden welcome parties take place


Sources:

Poster of Netflix TV series Welcome to Eden


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