THE Q&A

'Dancing with the Stars'' Marlee Matlin

EW.com talks to the self-described ''profoundly deaf'' Oscar-winning contestant and her rookie dancing partner Fabian Sanchez about their buzz-worthy run on this season's ''Dancing with the Stars''

Marlee Matlin, Dancing With the Stars | MARLEE MATLIN and FABIAN SANCHEZ
MARLEE MATLIN and FABIAN SANCHEZ

Given her position in last night's lineup alone, Oscar winner Marlee Matlin has quickly become the star attraction of this season's Dancing with the Stars. Already, the self-described "profoundly deaf" actress proved that she doesn't need to hear the music (though it certainly helps to feel her partner's swiveling hips) to confidently perform the cha-cha-cha. As competitor Marissa Winokur said after last night's show, "She doesn't want the sympathy vote. She wants to shine and sparkle like the rest of us and just wear fancy clothes." EW.com caught up with Marlee Matlin and her partner Fabian Sanchez after the performance that earned them 22 out of 30 points.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you think you did?
FABIAN SANCHEZ: It was a great night for us!
MARLEE MATLIN: It wasn't easy at all. It took time and patience and I had to muster up a lot of courage.

How much is your interpreter, Jack Jason, with you at rehearsal?
MATLIN: The whole time I'm there, he's like my mirror, or shadow. There is nothing I miss in terms of communication. I ask the interpreter if I nailed it or if I didn't nail it. Just like I ask Fabian.

Obviously you will be facing an enormous amount of scrutiny because of your deafness. Does that add an additional level of pressure to this competition?
MATLIN: No, not at all. I just want to be able to entertain with my sense of humor, to incorporate that into the cha-cha-cha. America doesn't know that side of me, they only know the dramatic side of me. Now I get to chance to do something movies never let me do, which is dance and have a good time.

You got the new guy — Fabian!
MATLIN: I got the rookie, baby.
SANCHEZ: I've been dancing with amateurs for 16 years so I know what to expect. To me, this is like another showcase. There is no challenge teaching her. She's amazing, she picks up everything really quick. She is a great student.
MATLIN: I look forward to next week because we are doing the quick step!

You must be answering a lot of questions both in front of and behind the camera about how you are able to dance without hearing the music. Is it getting old?
MATLIN: I'm not tired of it. America will eventually learn, just like my family learned, that it's a part of who I am, it's not what I'm all about. I can understand the curiosity factor — how do I do it? I can completely accept that and I'm totally fine with that. Who sees a deaf Oscar winner doing something like this? Not every day.

Originally posted Mar 19, 2008