By LEAH ASMELASH
Rihanna wasn’t the only one shining bright like a diamond during the Super Bowl.
Videos of Justina Miles, a deaf American Sign Language performer, are racking up views online as admirers praise her energetic signing during the telecast of Sunday’s game.
Miles signed lyrics for hard of hearing TV viewers as Rihanna performed a 13-minute set during the game’s halftime show. Before the game the 20-year-old also signed during actress Sheryl Lee Ralph’s performance of the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.
“Loving the spark and energy of Justina Miles, the ASL performer for the #SuperBowl,” one user wrote on Twitter. “Just fantastic!”
This isn’t Miles’ first musical performance. Hailing from Philadelphia, she has performed ASL renditions of concerts throughout the country, according to the National Association of the Deaf.
At a news conference on Thursday, Miles spoke about the significance of singing the Black National Anthem, which many viewers may not have heard before, she said.
“It’s not only for me to share this experience with the whole world, but to really bring that empowerment to millions and millions of Black deaf people all over the country, who’ve never really seen that before,” she said. “And so they should feel inspired, and that’s the same way I feel. I feel like that is truly lifting every voice, even my voice.”
Miles is a nursing student and a cheerleader at Bowie State University in Maryland and was the valedictorian at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington, D.C., according to the NFL.
She was one of several ASL performers who appeared at Sunday’s Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. Actor Troy Kotsur, who became the first deaf man to win an Oscar for his performance in 2021’s CODA, signed Chris Stapleton’s performance of the National Anthem.
Rihanna’s performance at this year’s Super Bowl was memorable for other reasons, too. Though the Kansas City Chiefs took home the trophy for beating the Philadelphia Eagles, Rihanna stole the show by signaling her pregnancy in the midst of her performance, sending shock waves through social media. A representative for the pop star later confirmed her pregnancy to CNN.
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