‘Killing It’s’ Stephanie Noguera Is Using Her Platform to Inspire the Next Gen of Deaf Actors

Working on a show with a central premise based on snakes isn’t for everyone, but fortunately Stephanie Nogueras did not have to be around too many reptiles while filming for her new show Killing It ⁠— at least not any real ones. 
“I saw the prop snakes, but that was it,” the 32-year-old Puerto Rican actor tells Refinery29 Somos. “So I’m thankful for that.” 
Now streaming on Peacock, Killing It stars Craig Robinson as Craig, a down-on-his-luck guy in Miami who winds up in the lucrative python hunting world, and Nogueras as Camille, his ex-wife who’s attempting to co-parent under pretty stressful circumstances, given Craig’s newfound line of work. 
Camille, Nogueras explains, is very sweet and has “a ton of patience” in dealing with Craig. Her tendency is to forgive and offer her ex-husband numerous chances to get his life together. 
“And for me, girl, I’m done. I cannot stand that,” Nogueras says. “No, I speak my mind. I want clarification right away. I’m very direct, very bold. I try to push people to do better. But Camille is very soft spoken. She’s very easy on Craig. And if that were me in real life, I could not do that.”
Snake hunting aside, the show aims to critique class and capitalism, highlighting the lengths at which people will go to be financially secure. “There is a deeper storyline about relationships: the relationship with Craig and family, relationships between friends as well as money, how we can become successful and strive for that American dream,” Nogueras shares. “The writers are brilliant, just completely brilliant.”
Camille, like Nogueras, is deaf, and she is one of the few deaf characters currently on television. Deaf representation within communities of color is especially limited. For the New Jersey native, being among the first to represent Latinx deaf people onscreen means that she can advocate for others to follow in her path. 

"My hope is in the future, we’ll see more deaf actors of color on screen, showing more diversity."

“Counseling and mentoring are some things I enjoy as well,” Nogueras says. “My hope is in the future, we’ll see more deaf actors of color on screen, showing more diversity, as well as actors who are deaf with additional disabilities. Just having a more positive light within the community displayed on screen.” 
When Coda — a film about a teen who’s the only hearing member in her deaf family — took home the Best Picture award at the 2022 Oscars, Nogueras thought it was a historic moment that signified an important turning point in how Hollywood understands movies about deaf people. 
“The deaf community, we’ve known codas all our lives,” Nogueras says. “I have coda friends. I have coda members in my family. But to see the impact and the emotional perspective that audiences had from the film is really great. It looks like the rest of the world is catching up to where we are and the experiences we already know.”
She calls out Troy Kotsur, who won Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film, and says she would like to see him “in many other projects” in the future. “He has been in theater for so many years,” Nogueras says. “He is such a bright talent. And there are so many other stories out there that need to be told.”
Although Nogueras could be considered an industry vet today — her first film credit dates back to 2013 — getting this far as an actor wasn’t a possibility she had originally considered. 
“Acting really wasn’t my original plan,” she says. “I always wanted to be a counselor and work with mental health services for the deaf community because it’s very needed within our community, especially now.”  
Nogueras has found a way to merge both interests with the establishment of Pepita Productions, an organization with a specific focus on Latinx deaf youth. She plans to have mentorship programs, workshops, and tools available for families to be better equipped to support their children. According to Nogueras, some hearing families do not sign, even though they have deaf children. She wants to provide resources that empower them to know that their children have bright futures.
“It’s really nice to use my platform to raise awareness that deaf people need mental health resources and to have role models for children of color to look up to on screen, to know that they can do whatever they want,” she says. “Some of these really sweet children — I enjoy being with them so much, to see them grow in their confidence and be proud of their deafness.”

"Deaf people need mental health resources and to have role models for children of color to look up to on screen."

When it comes to focusing on her own mental health, Nogueras takes a cue from her husband, a serial meditator who encouraged her to take up the practice. But she usually has another companion during her daily meditations: “I meditate with my cat. I love my cat. He’s my emotional support.”
Hiking and being around nature are some of her other tried-and-true methods for unwinding. She was recently inspired to unplug from technology for an entire weekend, a move she recommends to those struggling with information overload. 
“I noticed social media provides a lot of chaos,” she says. “Technology can be addicting. If you don’t manage it, you can just get lost in it and lose yourself. Over the weekend, I really tried to disconnect as much as possible and go out, go to the mountains, go somewhere where there are trees. That really helps me balance out my life.”

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