Deaf artist has his sights set on acting and modelling in New York

Adhil is determined to prove that disability is not a limitation but a source of strength and creativity.

Adhil Ramnath

Published Feb 15, 2024


Adhil Ramnath has not allowed being differently-abled to deter him from reaching his dream

The 38-year-old, from Chatsworth, who was born deaf, hopes to travel to New York in July to pursue his career in acting and modelling.

Ramnath, a sign language singer, auditioned at the International Arts Talent Showcase in Gauteng last October. The three-day event was aimed at showcasing live performances from artists from Africa.

He reached the top 20 after competing against more than 600 contestants. Ramnath was the only disabled person to qualify to perform in acting and modelling.

The show was judged by international artists from talent shows, including “The Voice and America’s Got Talent”.

He now hopes to travel to New York from July 5 to 14 for an auditioning programme, conventions, seminars and training at the International Modelling and Talent Convention (Imta).

Ramnath said the Imta was an annual event and would serve as a catalyst to jumpstart his international training and career path in the performing arts.

“I was born deaf due to rubella (german measles). My mum contracted the disease from a patient in the labour ward,” said Ramnath.

“Pregnant women, who contract rubella, are at risk for miscarriage or stillbirth, and their developing babies are at risk for severe birth defects with devastating, lifelong consequences. My parents tried every avenue to correct my deafness, but they were unsuccessful.

“We researched cochlear implants but this was not a successful treatment because I had nerve damage deafness.”

He added: “I communicate using South African sign language, lip-reading and spoken language. The sky was not the limit for me thanks to my parents. They enrolled me in speech therapy when I was two. I have always done my best and aimed for the stars.

“This opportunity is a dream come true. With all the training insights and overall accolades, I want to be the first deaf KZN actor/presenter/model and a motivational speaker for people with disabilities. I I want to help them understand that we can achieve anything we put our minds to, no matter our circumstances.”

This was not the first time Ramnath represented South Africa overseas.

Ramnath, who has an information technology diploma, is also a barista and a second year fashion design student at Amabhelevun School of Fashion, in Durban.

His dad, Rajen Ramnath, said: “I knew my son was special and extremely talented. He was a top achiever since his school days and he never stopped striving to reach his goals.

“He was a pupil at the VN Naik School for the Deaf, which caters for pupils with disabilities. The Grade 12 academic year is done over two years. In his second matric year, in 2004, he was the top pupil in the country’s Learners with Special Education Needs schools.

“My son has worked hard to prove that his disability was not his inability. He shined in everything he did. He is a dedicated, well-rounded young man and I hope his journey inspires others with disabilities.”

Veetha Sewkuran, president of the KZN Blind and Deaf Society, said the organisation was proud that Ramnath would showcase his acting skills, breaking down barriers and demonstrating the talent within the deaf community.

“Being deaf has heightened his sensitivity to visual expression and body language, enabling him to bring a unique perspective to the world of acting, singing and dancing.

“Adhil is determined to prove that disability is not a limitation but a source of strength and creativity. Through his performance, he aims to inspire others, showcasing the power of inclusion and diversity in the arts… His strides will contribute to the broader conversation of diversity and representation in the performing arts,” said Sewkuran.

Joey Hunter, an Imta talent scout, said Ramnath's talent and dedication set him apart from his peers.

“This opportunity presents an unparalleled chance to turn his dreams into reality. It provides the prospect of engaging with industry professionals from across the globe. The opportunity will also develop his skills and give him valuable insight into the entertainment industry.”

Ramnath said he was fund-raising for the trip that costs around R250 000.

“My disability requires an interpreter to accompany me to translate the voices into sign language. My parents will not accompany me due to travel and accommodation costs,” Ramnath said.

For more information, email [email protected] or call Rajen Ramnath at 076 448 3421.