Louisville native, now a Broadway star, returns home

Louisville native, now a Broadway star, returns home

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville native who has performed on Broadway came home from New York City for an important speech.  There's something very different about Sandra Mae Frank, she is deaf.

On Friday, Frank returned to the school she attended as a child, Heuser Hearing and Language Academy, formerly known as the Louisville Deaf Oral School.  She delivered the keynote speech for the annual fundraising breakfast.

Frank, who doesn't wear hearing aids or a cochlear implants, told the crowd through an interpreter about the reaction she would get from others after her performance on Broadway.

"Parents of deaf children would come up to me and say 'my child is deaf, and you inspired me' ... and give me lots of hugs," Frank said.

Her Father, Bill Frank, was in the audience recording her entire speech.

Later he spoke to WAVE 3 News Anchor Shannon Cogan, and got emotional.

"What she has been able to do ...with or without hearing is amazing," Bill Frank said.  "That she can inspire and show others what's possible.  It makes being a dad so great."

Sandra Mae starred in Deaf West's Spring Awakening on Broadway.  The show received critical acclaim and was nominated for three Tony Awards in 2016.

"It was my dream," Frank said. "I can remember growing up and telling my parents I'm going to be on Broadway. Broadway is a big dream for everybody.  A lot of people think it's impossible that's what I'm going to do."

She credits her early education for instilling confidence and her parents for allowing their daughter to follow her dream, one bigger than she ever imagined.

Sandra Mae and the cast of Deaf West's Spring Awakening performed on the nationally televised Tony Awards show, and were introduced by perhaps the most famous deaf actress.

"I would have never thought I would have a mentor in Marlee Matlin," Frank said. "We keep in touch.  She's a great support system for me."

And she promises to continue pushing boundaries, especially for those children now just starting out on their journey.

She is now writing her own productions, making sure there are roles for actors who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Sandra Mae has recently appeared in the film The Sound of Fear, that hopefully will hit theaters in the future.  She also revealed she's been cast in a major show that will be in Los Angeles in the fall, but couldn't release details.
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