Rose Ayling-Ellis will discuss her experiences as a deaf actress and life in the TV industry as a young person with a disability when she delivers the Alternative MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival.
The 27-year-old, who has been deaf since birth, has been announced as this year’s candidate to deliver the speech, which offers a platform for different and diverse voices in the television industry.
She found fame starring as Frankie Lewis in BBC soap EastEnders and went on to become the first deaf contestant to take part in Strictly Come Dancing, which she won.
The actress said: “I am so excited to be delivering this year’s Alternative MacTaggart lecture.
“It is a privilege to be able to use my platform to raise awareness and understanding of the deaf community.
“It is vital that we keep talking about the realities faced by those with disabilities in the industry, and I am so thrilled to be given the opportunity to address these important issues at this year’s lecture.”
The soap star has been a pioneer for the deaf community, including campaigning for British Sign Language (BSL) to be recognised as an official language, which was passed last month in the House of Lords.
She also recently became the first celebrity to sign a CBeebies bedtime story, and won the must-see moment award at the Bafta TV awards for her silent dance routine on Strictly with her professional partner, Giovanni Pernice.
The Alternative MacTaggart lecture has previously been delivered by actress and presenter Jameela Jamil, ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and American TV host Jerry Springer.
Elsewhere at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Scottish actor Brian Cox will discuss his career in an in-depth interview where he will explore what it was like to play media magnate Logan Roy in the hit HBO drama Succession.
He will also share his thoughts on US versus UK drama, identity and his working-class background.
Author Dolly Alderton, whose memoir Everything I Know About Love was released as a series on BBC this week, will be in conversation with comedian and writer Rose Matafeo, who created the TV comedy series Starstruck.
They will discuss the creative process of bringing their work to the small screen and share their experiences of life in TV and beyond.
The Masterclass thread will feature the cast and teams behind Netflix’s hit coming-of-age LGBTQ+ series Heartstopper, the BBC comedy Ghosts and Disney+ drama Wedding Season.
The festival will also feature interviews with creative content chiefs from broadcasters and streaming platforms among other panels.
The festival’s creative director, Stewart Clarke, said: “As we head back to Edinburgh, we are delighted to reveal some of the amazing talent and industry speakers who will be joining us.
“Rose Ayling-Ellis will deliver a landmark Alternative MacTaggart, we have the casts of some of TV’s most exciting and loved shows, and, of course, the inimitable Brian Cox, as well as sessions discussing urgent industry matters. And that is just the start, with lots more to come.”
– The Edinburgh International Television Festival will return as an in-person event in the Scottish capital from August 24 to 26, led by advisory chairwoman Afua Hirsch.
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