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Producer and model Nyle DiMarco wants to tell more stories about the Deaf community

The producer, activist, and “America’s Next Top Model” winner takes our career questionnaire.

Producer and model Nyle DiMarco wants to tell more stories about the Deaf community
[Illustration: Lui Ferreyra]
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Fast Company: What’s your best habit, and what’s your worst?

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Nyle DiMarco: Smiling and over­analyzing.

What do you do when you’re creatively stuck?

Go out for a walk to buy myself espresso.

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What’s the best mistake you ever made?

Not finishing my master’s degree in Deaf Education. I’m thankful to be on the journey I am, and never would have thought my career would take me toward acting and producing. Maybe one day I’ll go back and finish.

Is there a book you recommend to everyone?

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Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight. You learn that great things require time, effort, and patience.

What’s the advice you’re glad you ignored?

“Be careful.” From my perspective, people only tell me to be careful when I’m doing things differently.

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Is there a businessperson you admire?

Ava DuVernay. She uses her platform to amplify and tell Black stories and to empower projects by women and people of color. It’s my goal to follow in her footsteps and tell stories about my Deaf and disabled communities.

Favorite Instagram Accounts

Is there a buzzword you never want to hear again?

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Diversity and inclusion in the form of employing people with disabilities. The label itself creates uneasiness among employees. We need to change the hearts and minds of people toward those who are perceived as different.

Did you have a career fork in the road?

I had to choose between competing on America’s Next Top Model or filming Switched at Birth, because their schedules overlapped. I chose the former, and that really launched my career. [Walking] the Armani fashion show in Milan, creating my foundation, and producing projects like Deaf U for Netflix are a result of that choice. I own a production company committed to empowering people with disabilities. I couldn’t have done it if not for Tyra Banks giving me a chance.

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What is your biggest indulgence?

Dark chocolate and hot baths.

What TV show are you mid-binge on (and why)?

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How To with John Wilson. I love the dry-humored narration as John strolls around New York City looking for answers to his many questions.

What do you send to congratulate someone?

Flowers and a video text message.

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Do you have a mantra?

“Either I will find a way, or I will make one.”

What is your go-to food for fast fuel?

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A Pink Lady apple and a NuGo dark chocolate vegan protein bar.

What is the first thing you do in the morning?

Drink two cups of water.

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What is the last thing you do at night?

Check Instagram, unfortunately. I need to work on that . . .