Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin revealed that sobriety was the key to navigating and succeeding in a tough business. The actor, author and activist, currently appearing in Apple TV Plus’ acclaimed film “Coda,” was a keynote speaker at Variety’s Power of Women Summit, presented by Lifetime.
“Getting sober was the key to helping me navigate to be where I am today. I don’t think that I would have been able to do it any other way,” said Matlin via her interpreter Jack Jason. “It doesn’t mean that my life was perfect. But it’s helped me a great deal. It has been 34 years since that day that I decided to be sober. And I’m very proud of that. I was able to achieve it. It was not easy, but it worked for me.”
Matlin remains the youngest performer to a win a lead actress Academy Award, for her film debut in “Children of a Lesser God.” She is also earning Oscar buzz for her supporting role in “Coda,” playing the matriarch of a family with a hearing daughter (Emilia Jones) who yearns to leave her life and family behind for college.
As a deaf advocate, Matlin spoke about how she often works with creatives to ensure the community is properly represented. She noted that at one point, there was a discussion about her character’s husband in “Coda” being played by a hearing actor. “And that was something I said I wouldn’t be able to participate in,” she revealed. “It would send the wrong message to deaf children who want to be actors, to people in the industry who want to be able to get away with having people playing disabled roles or deaf roles.”