One of the few good parts about social media and the internet is that occasionally, an inspiring personality gets their deserved spotlight. The latest in that list is deaf ASL performer and TikTok star Justina Miles, who just performed at the Super Bowl halftime show alongside Rihanna. Read to find out who Justina Miles is and why she is famous on TikTok.

Super Bowl halftime show

The Philadelphia Eagles took on the Kansas City Chiefs at the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. But the game was overshadowed by an out-of-the-world halftime performance by a pregnant Rihanna.

  • Another performance complemented Rihanna’s to create history. 20-year-old TikTok star Justina Miles became the first ever female deaf American Sign Language (ASL) performer at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. 
  • During the halftime show, Justina Miles performed and signed some of Rihanna’s biggest career hits with great energy. The songs included B*tch Better Have My Money, Work, Diamonds and Umbrella. 
Justina Miles TikTok deaf ASL Super Bowl performance
Image courtesy of CNN
  • Justina Miles signed and performed the pre-show’s Lift Every Voice and Sing, sung by actress Sheryl Lee Ralph. This song is commonly known as the Black national anthem.

Who is Justina Miles?

In 2020, Justina Miles went viral on TikTok. She posted her version of the #crushonyouchallenge which was trending back then. In the video, Miles signs a verse and pays homage to rapper Lil Kim and her song, Crush on You.

  • Born and raised in Philadelphia, Justina Miles is hard of hearing which led to her to take up ASL performing. Her family is mixed with people who can hear but her mother is deaf.
  • At a press conference after the Super Bowl, Justina Miles shared her experience of bringing empowerment to millions of Black deaf people all over the country.

Outside of TikTok

Justina Miles goes to HBCU Bowie State University, and she was the valedictorian at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington DC. She participated in the 2021-22 Deaflympics in Brazil and won a silver medal in the women’s relay event.

Image courtesy of Instagram
  • The Deaflympics, also known as the World Games for the Deaf, provides an opportunity for deaf athletes from around the world to come together and compete at an elite level.
  • It also promotes deaf culture and raises awareness of the capabilities of deaf athletes such as Justina Miles.

Deaf ASL Performers

The Super Bowl also featured Academy Award winner Troy Kotsur who rendered an ASL performance of the National Anthem. Colin Denny performed America the Beautiful through a blend of ASL and North American Indian Sign Language.

Image courtesy of CNN
  • Deaf ASL performers use their hands, facial expressions, and body language to convey emotion, tone, and meaning in their performances, whether it be in theater, film, music, dance, or comedy.
  • Notable deaf ASL performers include Marlee Matlin, CJ Jones, Nyle DiMarco, Amber Zion and John Maucere, who have made significant contributions to comedy, poetry, storytelling, and other art forms.

TikTok star Justina Miles’ landmark performance at the Super Bowl has surely helped to increase visibility and representation of the deaf community in popular culture. 

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SOURCES: CNBC, Entertainment Tonight