As an actor, CJ has done just about everything, from performing a Tony Award winning play on National Tour, to directing Deaf kids from high school to kindergarten in their own productions. He has acted in Film and TV, written several one-man shows that have toured the US and internationally, and gives motivational speeches to colleges and companies. CJ has performed his one-man show in Ecuador, Japan, Sweden, Australia, Canada, the US Virgin Islands, and in every state in the union. He has performed in hundreds of elementary, high schools, universities, colleges, conventions, and many events across the continent, inspiring hearing and deaf, young and old.
CJ was born in St. Louis, MO, one of seven hearing children born to deaf parents. At age 7 he was struck very ill with spinal meningitis, and consequently lost his hearing. After he became deaf, he briefly tried an oral education in a local school and then transferred to Missouri School for the Deaf, where he graduated High School. After High School, CJ attended National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, NY. After graduating NTID, CJ joined the National Theater for the Deaf, where he toured nationally with main stage plays and Little Theater of the Deaf for two years.
Cast as Orin in Children of a Lesser God, (Bus/Truck Broadway tour) he toured USA and Canada for 2 years, and garnered an Ensemble Tony award for their performances. He has also appeared on NBC's "Frasier," ABC Family's "Lincoln Heights," the PBS television shows Sesame Street and Rainbow's End, and was the host of Happy Hands Kids Klub.
CJ is one of 4 Deaf performers showcased in the 2010 documentary See What I'm Saying. CJ also appeared in Through Deaf Eyes on PBS, and in all 6 Once Upon a Sign titles. He has even done voice over roles, voicing a Deaf Indian (played by a hearing actor) in a movie called PathFinder from 20th Century Fox.
CJ plays the role of Joseph in the action movie Baby Driver, directed by Edgar Wright. It was released August 2017. He also plays a spiritual guru in the horror film Door in the Woods released this summer. Presently he is working on a feature film project with James Cameron and Jon Landau.
CJ was a consultant with Downtown Disney to host Deaf celebrities, performers, dancers, storytellers, and more... from March 16 - 18, 2012 at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California. He also consulted a short film project Championship Rounds. He is the producer of the new ASL Idol sign language song-signing competition that will be held at College of Canyons on September 23, 2017.
Through his media company, Sign World TV, CJ co-wrote, Directed, and Acted in a series of 6 classic fairy tales titled Once Upon A Sign, produced with Dawn Sign Press. All titles have been released direct to DVD and streaming.
CJ received Nevil Award (2013) from Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. This award is given to an individual, hearing or deaf, who has made a significant contribution to improving the lives of Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
For more than 35 years, CJ has shared his talents with Deaf and hearing schools, events, and universities across the country and around the world. CJ vigorously spreads the message to students and adults alike, that being different does not mean being less worthwhile.
HONORS Unsung Hero Award of the Year 2008 - KCET-WAMU, Los Angeles NTID Alumni Association Outstanding Award 2008 - NTID/RIT, Rochester, NY Outstanding Service to the Deaf Community 2011-The Spirit of Excellence Nevil Award 2013 presented by Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.
GRANTS . L.A. Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles - Artistic Director - ASL Poetry - Show of Hands 1994-97 . Deaf Culture Playwrights - Everyday Cafe & Say What? (TV Pilot Project) . Toyota Foundation - Hands Across Communications, Inc., 1998 . Weingart Foundation - Hands Across Communications, Inc., 1999 . Sign World TV - Founder/CEO
Graduation Speaker California School for the Deaf - Fremont (2nd time) California School for the Deaf - Riverside (2nd time) Pennsylvania School for the Deaf - Philadelphia, PA Missouri School for the Deaf - Fulton, Missouri New York School for the Deaf - Fanwood, New York