Even if you haven’t watched Eternals, it’s become quite clear that Makkari is a fan favorite. Played by Lauren Ridloff, this ageless superhero is part of a collective of beings that are meant to protect Earth and guide its inhabitants as they grow as a society and people. Makkari is part of that. And what makes her special, besides her speed that would make even The Flash jealous, is that she is a deaf superhero.
For those in the deaf or hard of hearing communities, she matters. Makkari is proof that these stories are possible and worth telling. It’s also proof that these communities are hungry for representation and to be seen by those in Hollywood that have ignored them time and time again. And for Ridloff, the significance of her role isn’t lost on her or her children, who are also deaf.
“I can tell you what my two boys think, they’re both deaf and they’re both little. They really are still very young but the significance of having a deaf superhero is not lost on them,” Ridloff said before going on to talk about other children. “What’s really exciting is what Makkari means for children like them. It means that there are people around them, their family members and the community that surrounds them, that will have an opportunity to see other deaf individuals, and see what deaf children are capable of doing.”
Ridloff is also aware acutely aware of the changes that need to happen in Hollywood so her Eternals character Makkari won’t be the only deaf superhero or character out there. We need more. We crave more. And if actual change is going to happen, Hollywood needs to go a little deeper when it comes to being inclusive.
As Ridloff explained, “Right now, I feel like we are invited to join the space in front of the camera, but what is happening behind the camera? I mean, is there enough change happening there. Are there deaf writers in the writer’s room? Are there deaf crew members? Hair and makeup? I would love to see more of that.”
And it doesn’t just stop there. Ridloff is an advocate for the Latine and Black communities, which she is part of as well. “We have Tessa as Valkyrie, we have Zoe Saldaña as Gamora, and I’m very proud to be part of this group. But I still feel like there’s space for more Latina or Afro-Latina actors.” And she’s absolutely right.
There is room for more and Hollywood would be remiss to not take Ridloff’s words, or Chloé Zhao’s about organic representation in Eternals, and take a closer look at what communities we are representing and how we can make more people feel seen, loved, and understood.