Previously, Two Men On had the privilege of interviewing Micah Fowler from ABC’s “Speechless” (see June 1 post). Now, Two Men On has taken it a step further by having the privilege of interviewing fellow “Speechless” actor and Minnesota native Cedric Yarbrough (pictured with clown nose)!
Two Men On sincerely thanks Mr. Yarbrough for his willingness to be interviewed. The interview transcript is below.
Two Men On (TMO): How/why did you decide to audition for “Speechless?”
Cedric Yarbrough (CY): I auditioned for “Speechless” because like most actors, frankly, I needed a job!… I’ve been pretty selective and protective of my career so I won’t just do anything but this was a special project. I could tell by first reading the script [that] I wanted to throw my hat in the ring & take on the character of “Kenneth” [J.J’s aide].
TMO: Before “Speechless,” did you have any misconceptions of disability that have been challenged as a result of the TV series? If so, what were they? How did you prepare for this role?
CY: I was able to prepare for the role with an amazing writer named Eva Sweeney. She has CP [cerebral palsy], is non-verbal & also has an aide much like the characters in the show. She kinda showed me the ropes & it was basically a crash course in CP…She & her aide were really amazing & extremely open to my questions, including ones about love, drugs & racism.
TMO: Do you have a sense of how “Speechless” is being received within the disability community? What sort of feedback have you been getting?
CY: I’ve been so in the “Speechless” bubble that I’ve tried to tune a lot of it out. Not that I’m not curious to hear what the disabled community is thinking but I treat it as any show I’d be working on. I don’t want public opinion to shape my performance on the show… But I will say some feedback has gotten in. We work very closely with Cerebral Palsy Foundation on the show & they’ve been quite happy. I’ve read some comments on our “Speechless” Facebook page & I hear a lot of kids with disabilities would love an aide like ‘Kenneth’ & that makes me EXTREMELY happy.
TMO: How is “Speechless” similar to and different from other things you have acted in?
CY: “Speechless” is similar to other jobs I’ve worked because it’s simply that, a job [which I love]. That’s the cool thing, I chose a profession I absolutely love. This particular one is different because it really means something to a lot of folks so it gives me that extra boost when I have those 5 am call times. My role as ‘Deputy Jones’ on ‘Reno 911!’ was a role of a lifetime. It launched my career & got me in the minds of Hollywood & America as a whole. Now I’m extremely fortunate to be working on this project. Another role of a lifetime [but a very different one]!
TMO: What have you enjoyed most about being part of “Speechless?”
CY: One of my favorite parts of being on the show is the awareness it’s creating. It reminds me of… when our first Black President was elected. It’s an inner happiness you feel. That’s the sense I’m getting about this show from the disabled community. They’re happy they are finally being represented in a respectful and first and foremost FUNNY way. And because this is happening, turning back and hiring actors without CP to play roles of characters with CP will be lazy and frankly stupid. Having a disability will be looked upon as mainstream & I think that’s a good thing.
TMO: Are you a baseball fan? If so, what’s your favorite team?
CY: I am not a huge baseball fan but I do cheer for the Twins and they let me down each year. Micah Fowler (J.J.) and I got to shoot an epic show this year where we shot at Dodgers Stadium. It truly was remarkable to stand in the stands, & in the dugout, & in the field & on that grass. Really quite cool.
Thanks so much again to Mr. Yarbrough for agreeing to this interview! We truly appreciate it!
Written and interviewed by: Sam Graves