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Rihanna's halftime show at Super Bowl LVII was one of the most talked about aspects of the whole event. In fact, more people watched her performance than the actual game. From an amazing aerial stage setup to her unexpected pregnancy reveal, it was a performance for the ages. In addition to what Rihanna was doing on stage, there was another performer wowing audiences at the same exact time. Meet Justina Miles, the American Sign Language interpreter who almost stole the show as she energetically signed the pop star's greatest hits for the telecast. Not only did she make the thrilling performance accessible, but she also became the first deaf woman to provide ASL interpretation during the Super Bowl halftime show.
Miles, a 20-year-old nursing student from Philadelphia, gave an exciting performance throughout the 13-minute show. She danced and signed to “Umbrella,” “We Found Love,” and “Diamonds,” and even added her own dance moves to the instrumental parts to keep momentum and share the vibrancy of the music. On top of her vivid work during Rihanna's show, the interpreter was also part the pre-game ceremony. She performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (often referred to as the Black National Anthem) as it was sung by Emmy-winning actress Sheryl Lee Ralph.
“Thank you @nfl @nad1880 for allowing me to be part of American history, Black history, and Deaf history,” Miles wrote on Instagram. “I had the honor of performing the Black National Anthem with @thesherylleeralph, and lift every voice of the unrecognized, the overlooked, and the culture. Not only is it an overwhelming inspiration to be the first woman to perform at the pregame and halftime show, but to be Black and Deaf as well. That shows real inclusivity and big baby steps towards true accessibility.”
According to the National Association of the Deaf, she has given ASL performances at concerts around the U.S. At the Super Bowl, she was joined by Oscar-winning actor Troy Kotsur, who performed the National Anthem, and Colin Denny, a Navajo Nation research assistant who signed “America the Beautiful” in a mix of American Sign Language and North American Indian Sign Language.
After going viral for an electrifying ASL performance of Lil’ Kim’s “Crush on You” in 2020, it became clear that Miles enjoyed bringing access to the music she loves. “I’m so glad the world—deaf and hearing—enjoyed one of the biggest moments of the year together!” she exclaims. “This experience was indescribable and I’m at a loss of words for each and every one of your love and support.”
ASL interpreter Justina Miles drew a lot of attention at this year's Super Bowl.
She beautifully signed Sheryl Lee Ralph's opening performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
And Miles almost stole the show at the halftime performance as she energetically signed Rihanna's greatest hits.
“I’m so glad the world—deaf and hearing—enjoyed one of the biggest moments of the year together! This experience was indescribable and I’m at a loss of words for each and every one of your love and support.”
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