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Lauren Ridloff Becomes An Intersectional Icon Through Her (Unexpected) Acting Career
November 5, 2021
Many women make huge, life-altering career changes years into their chosen profession. But Lauren Ridloff’s unexpected career pivot has led her to become a ceiling-shattering superhero in a groundbreaking big studio film.
The Chicago native snagged a co-leading role in Eternals, the highly-anticipated 26th entry into Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is a sweeping, canon-expanding addition to the fan-beloved lore originated by The Avengers, and features the largest, most diverse cast in an MCU film so far. Not to mention, she has made history as the first deaf superhero in the franchise’s multi-platformed history.
The 43-year-old actress, whose intensely youthful looks belie her years, portrays Makkari, a snarky yet compassionate otherworldly immortal being who has occupied Earth for 7 centuries. A member of a family of 9-other such beings who answer to a grand celestial power, she possesses the power of speed that sees her traversing the world’s expanse in a manner of minutes.
Despite landing this massive role in such a groundbreaking capacity, Ridloff is still a relative newcomer to the film world. She also had quite an unconventional entry into acting.
“I was a kindergarten teacher for almost 10 years,” she said. “I definitely enjoyed it and I loved my classroom.”
Holding an MEd from NYC’s Hunter College, she taught a group of about 15 students with varying proximity to the deaf community in American Sign Language at Manhattan’s P.S. 347. She was brought on for a consulting role for a 2018 revival of the classic play Children of a Lesser God on Broadway but ended up doing a table read and eventually snagging the lead role opposite Joshua Jackson.
Though she had little acting experience, Ridloff’s moving performance garnered her a Tony nomination that same year.
“It was during that time that I realized, ‘wait a minute, I’m still doing the same thing,’” she said of her newfound success on the stage. “I am still teaching. My classroom though, just got a lot bigger into a thousand-seat auditorium as opposed to 15, but just as diverse.”