Lydia Callis has been called Michael Bloomberg’s “humanity.” Callis, the sign language interpreter for the mayor of New York City, combines her facial expressions with the deft motions of her fingers to convey all the emotion that Bloomberg appears to lack. And on the heels of Hurricane Sandy, Callis has now become a star.
Callis, who is not deaf herself, though she has a hearing-impaired mother, has attracted a massive fan base with dedicated Twitter followers and even a Tumblr site dedicated to her based on her work for the mayor. While it doesn’t hurt that she is attractive, her fans are drawn in by the emphatic facial gestures she makes to convey the terror and havoc wrought by Hurricane Sandy, as her fingers work to explain Bloomberg’s message to the hearing-impaired. Such is her following, The Daily Beast has even set a clip of her signing to the Ace of Base song, “The Sign.”
Modest about the work she does, Callis does not typically agree to be interviewed herself. “By nature, the role of an interpreter is to accommodate effective communication, not to be the story,” Greg Livadas, a spokesman for Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, where Callis attended, said in an interview with the SF Gate. “She may be uncomfortable with all the hype.”
Further proof of her star came when Twitter users broke out in a panic after a different sign language interpreter accompanied Bloomberg for one of his recent speeches. A flurry of tweets erupted wondering if “sign language translators could ‘lose their voice?’”
Maybe she just had a hangnail?
For the original video, go here. Otherwise, check out the sweet Ace of Base mashup below!