Born in 1967, opportunity was scarce for a deaf boy like Anthony Natale. A first-generation Italian-Canadian, Natale grew up in Saint Catharines, Ontario as the the middle child in a family of five. The only Deaf person in his family, Natale the boy was known as handsome and funny, a class clown destined to seize his dream, whether Deaf, hearing, or otherwise.
The dream first captured Natale following the 1978 release of the hit musical comedy Grease. At the time, closed captioning was widely unavailable for deaf moviegoers, so Natale improvised, bringing a pop-up book about the movie to the theater. From that day forward, Natale knew he wanted to be an actor, "like John Travolta."
Beginning his his education at Ontario's Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf, Natale transferred to a mainstreaming program for gifted students, graduating as valedictorian before earning a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production and a minor in Theater Arts from California State University Northridge.
Natale the man is as a prominent figure in the world of Deaf media and a distinguished performer in film, television, and theater.
His early film career was highlighted by roles in Mr. Holland's Opus (1995) and Jerry Maguire (1996). Natale plays Coltrane Holland, Mr Holland’s eldest son in Mr. Holland's Opus and appears as the deaf man who signs "You complete me" to his partner during the pivotal elevator scene of Jerry Maguire.
Starring in the American Sign Language film Universal Signs (2008), Natale won the Feel Good Film Festival's "Best Actor" award for his performance as the protagonist, a tormented deaf artist named Andrew.
His other film appearances include Children of a Lesser God (1986), USA Network's His Bodyguard (1998), City of Angels (1998), Two Shades of Blue (1999), Sorority Boys (2002), and Date Movie (2006).
In television, Natale plays a recurring role as Emmett's father, Cameron, in ABC Family's hit drama Switched at Birth. He also plays Dr. Lambert in CSI, a role in which he performed alongside Academy Award winning actress Marlee Matin.
In addition, he has appeared in Any Day Now, Once and Again, Seventh Heaven, Ellen (with Ellen DeGeneres), Beauty and The Beast, Pacific Blues, and Rude Awakening.
His commercial appearances include a part in the delightful Pizza Hut advertisement in which two Deaf people connect over the internet, not knowing the other is deaf until they meet in person.
Natale's passions extend to theater, where he has participated in a number of productions, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, West Side Story, The Red Shoes, The Greatest Show on Earth, Godspell, Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, and Alice in Wonderland.
In the the world of Deaf media, Natale is a decorated ASL master, starring in “How to talk to a person who can’t hear," the first video made to teach sign language to the general public. The project earned awards from the U.S. International Film & Video Festival, including a "Young Artist" award for Natale himself.
In addition to playing Cameron in Switched at Birth, Natale serves as the show's ASL Master, working in conjunction with both deaf and hearing actors to ensure a uniform and crisp presentation of the language.
Throughout his career, Natale has expressed a desire to synthesize media for both deaf and hearing in a style that brings joy to all. In 2009, he was tasked with teaching American Sign Language to dancers as ASL Master on Michael Jackson's London Tour.
One of Natale's most recent projects, the music video of Tim Sweeny's, "Baby I Try for You," has nearly one million YouTube views since its release in January of 2014.
At present, he continues his work with Deaf West productions, acting, translating, and consulting for Spring Awakening, Big River, Sleepy Beauty, Wakes, and Pippin.
At 46, the boy from Saint Catherine's, Ontario is alive and well, and is known by friends and family as caring, humble, and intuitive. Ever active, Natale's favorite pastimes include foreign film, rollerblading, real estate renovation, and kickboxing. His passions have also led him to work as both a personal trainer and private ASL tutor.
Ironically, Natale, who grew up in his family's Italian restaurant, is not partial to the carbohydrate-loaded cuisine of his ancestors, admitting a near obsessive romance with sushi.
A 23-year member of SAG and AFTRA, Natale currently resides in Los Angeles, basking in the California sun and staying active in a variety of sports. He remains profoundly thankful for the tremendous contributions of his family, who offer a constant source of support in all endeavors.