|Born||Genevieve Louise Barr
Genevieve Louise Barr (born December 1985, Harrogate) is an English actress. Born deaf, she made her major acting debut in July 2010 playing the role of a deaf teenager in the BBC One prime-time drama The Silence. She previously played a deaf nurse in the Channel 4 2009 comedy, The Amazing Dermot.
Barr was born deaf into a hearing family with no hereditary record of deafness, and has a sister two years younger, Antonia, and twin teenage siblings, Robert and Sabrina. They went to Highfield preparatory school and now attend Ripon Grammar School. She was fitted with hearing aids aged four and has never learned sign language, relying on lip-reading to complete the sound picture. Barr attended mainstream education at Harrogate Ladies' College, and studied English and History at Edinburgh University, graduating in 2008. A talented sports-woman, she played rounders for England at 15, was a high-board diving champion in Harrogate, captained the Edinburgh University lacrosse team, going on to play for Scotland. Barr enrolled in the Teach First graduate scheme and was teaching in St Michaels Catholic college, a secondary school in Bermondsey, South London before commencing her acting career. In 2011 Genevieve was fitted with a Phonak Naida S hearing device.
Barr had always considered a career in acting, but felt that her voice was not coherent enough. A friend working for a production company encouraged her to audition for a role as a deaf nurse in Channel 4's The Amazing Dermot starring Rhys Darby, a 30-minute pilot episode as part of the Comedy Showcase series. After this role, filmed during the school holidays, Barr returned to teaching, but she was spotted by Company Pictures and asked to audition for a role in a BBC One drama, The Silence. The Amazing Dermot was broadcast on 4 December 2009.
Barr auditioned for the role of Amelia in The Silence and was offered the part by director Dearbhla Walsh who was impressed not only by her acting but also by her teaching job and how articulate she was. Barr starred alongside experienced actors Hugh Bonneville, Douglas Henshall, Gina McKee and Dervla Kirwan. Amelia is an 18-year-old girl who has recently been fitted with cochlear implants and is learning to hear for the first time. Because of the prosthetic implant, Barr was unable to wear her hearing aids during filming and thus had to rely on lip-reading. It took Barr time to adjust to the size of the role; Amelia is just starting to adjust to the hearing world, and is under a lot of pressure. At the same time, she is a normal teenager, who then witnesses a murder and her life spirals out of control. Barr used the role as an opportunity to learn more about deafness, saying that her world is different to that of Amelia, who "has been used to a world of silence, unlike me. And signing is her first language. She's learning to hear for the first time and to recognise sounds for the first time." Barr had to learn to sign for the part, and had to look convincing as Amelia was obviously a fluent signer.
- Dehn, Georgia Genevieve Barr interview: the deaf star of the new BBC thriller The Silence, 24 June 2010, www.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 13 July 2010.
- Press Packs: The Silence: Genevieve Barr (Amelia), 7 July 2010, www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 July 2010.