San Jose Speaker Series
Actress & Activist
Speaking together with Henry Winkler Wednesday, April 12th, 2023
(Replacing originally scheduled speaker, Annie Leibovitz)
Marlee Matlin is one of the most dynamic and inspiring keynote speakers in the world, with several impassioned presentations suited for groups and events of all kinds. In one talk, Matlin takes audiences through the highs and lows of her Hollywood career and journeys as an activist. In separate presentations, as a renowned advocate for diversity, Matlin boldly challenges audiences to advocate for equity, inclusion, acceptance, and access for all people and to endeavor to live a life without judgment of others —everybody’s different, and nobody’s perfect. Listeners come away informed and empowered to make a difference in the world, with the knowledge that they can begin by changing just one person’s life.
Academy Award for Best Actress. At 21, she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar and only one of four actresses to receive the honor for her film debut. In addition to the Oscar, Marlee received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama. In 2021, Marlee was nominated once again as Executive Producer for the Live Action Short, Feeling Through. And in 2022, her Apple TV+ film CODA swept every category it was nominated in at the 2022 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Marlee has also starred in numerous television projects, including Seinfeld, The West Wing, Law and Order SVU, The L Word, Switched At Birth, The Magicians, and Quantico, garnering four Emmy nominations along the way. In 2022, Marlee made her first foray into directing, being the first network television director who is Deaf for the Fox TV anthology drama, Accused.
In addition to her film, TV, and stage work, Marlee broke barriers when she starred on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and in 2012, Marlee released her first app, appropriately titled Marlee Signs, teaching American Sign Language to millions of smartphone users. She has also penned three novels for children, as well as her New York Times best-selling autobiography, I’ll Scream Later.
In 1994, Marlee was appointed by President Clinton to the Corporation for National Service and in 2010, Marlee joined President Barack Obama at the White House in ceremonies celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In June 2022, Marlee was elected to the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, representing the Actors Branch.
Despite the odds, Marlee’s journey is an inspiration to everyone, regardless of the barriers they face and she has refused to let the naysayers get in the way of her dreams of success. As she so aptly stated, “The only thing I can’t do is hear. The rest is there for the taking.”