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Emanu El Hosts Marlee Matlin

Thursday, January 30, 2020 4 Sh'vat 5780

7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Please note that registration will close at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 30 so we can make final preparations for the event. Those who have not purchased tickets prior to the 3:00 p.m. deadline can do so via cash or credit card at the check-in desk.

Additionally, our $100 level tickets are no longer available as we have reached capacity for the VIP portion of the evening. Thanks for your patronage!

Congregation Emanu El, in partnership with the 2020 ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival, is excited to announce that Academy Award-winning actress, author and activist Marlee Matlin will present Nobody’s Perfect: Achieving Inclusion, Diversity and Access. The event is part of the congregation’s 2019-20 Endowment Series and kicks off the eighth annual, ten-plus-days ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival which is produced by the JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased through Emanu El’s website or by calling 713.529.5771.

Additionally, an $100 ticket is available for purchase which comes with a reserved seat and invitation to a private reception with Matlin to be held before the event for those who take advantage of this opportunity as well as Emanu El Endowment underwriters and sponsors of ReelAbilities Houston.

Matlin’s appearance coincides with a significant milestone, the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. The ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability while also requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. The law also established accessibility requirements for public spaces.

About Marlee Matlin:

Matlin, who lost her hearing when she was only 18 months old, has never let her challenges dictate her future or deter her dreams. Matlin achieved worldwide critical acclaim for her film debut in Paramount Pictures' Children of a Lesser God, for which she received the Academy Award for Best Actress. At 21, she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar and only one of four actresses to receive the honor for her film debut. In addition to the Oscar, Matlin received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama in 1986.

Along with a successful Hollywood career, Matlin has dedicated herself to raising awareness for many humanitarian causes, including diversity and LGBT rights. She is a staunch advocate for children and a champion for those struggling against domestic abuse and addiction, battles she knows well.

In 2015, Matlin developed “Marlee Signs," the first celebrity-driven app that teaches the basics of American Sign Language (ASL) on mobile devices. In 2016, Matlin returned for her third appearance at the Super Bowl, signing the National Anthem alongside Grammy-winning and Platinum-selling artist Lady Gaga. In support of the Starkey Hearing Foundation, Matlin has also helped raise awareness for better hearing health for millions of deaf and hard of hearing children and adults in developing countries.

Since winning the Oscar and Golden Globe for Children of a Lesser God, Matlin has starred in numerous features including Walker, The Player, Hear No Evil, It’s My Party, and What the Bleep Do We Know. She has also starred in TV films Bridge to Silence, Against Her Will: The Carrie Buck Story, Dead Silence, Freak City, Where the Truth Lies, and Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Sweet Nothing in my Ear.

Matlin also starred in her own NBC series Reasonable Doubts opposite Mark Harmon and the Emmy Award-winning Picket Fences. Matlin was twice nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Drama as well as the People's Choice Award. She has been nominated for four Emmy awards for her appearances on Seinfeld, Picket Fences, The Practice and Law and Order: SVU. Matlin starred for seven years on the award-winning drama The West Wing, and has made numerous guest appearances including ER, Desperate Housewives, CSI: New York, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, Nip/Tuck, CSI, Glee, and Family Guy. In 2007 Matlin joined The L Word for three seasons. From 2011 to 2017, Matlin starred in the Peabody Award-winning series, Switched at Birth. Matlin was a series regular on the third season of the ABC drama Quantico.

Matlin broke barriers once again when she starred on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and in 2015 returned to the stage after a 30-year hiatus by making her Broadway debut in the revival of the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening.

In 2009, Matlin published her New York Times best-selling autobiography I’ll Scream Later and has authored three novels for children: Deaf Child Crossing, Nobody’s Perfect, and Leading Ladies.

Matlin makes her home in the Los Angeles area with her husband, a law enforcement officer, and their four children.

Matlin’s appearance at Emanu El is generously underwritten by the endowment funds of the synagogue including the Nathan Berg Lectureship Fund, the Caplovitz Lectureship Fund, the Eleanor & Frank Freed Lectureship Fund, the Helen & Harry Reichek Lectureship Fund, the Shirley & Bernard Weingarten Fund and the Julius Zinn Fund. Previous Endowment Fund speakers at Emanu El have included the late Governor Mario Cuomo, actor Joshua Malina, Reverend William Barber and journalist Carl Bernstein.

About ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival:

ReelAbilities Houston Film & Arts Festival is annually produced by the JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and supported by lead sponsors TIRR Memorial Hermann, founding partner, and Cornerstone Home Lending. The Festival showcases and leverages the unique contributions of people with disabilities, with the mission to foster inclusion, erase stigmas, change perceptions and create pathways to employment in the nation’s most diverse city.

The event will include ASL interpretation, real-time captioning and accessible seating.  Additional accommodation requests should be made 72 hours in advance by contacting Andie Palagi, Festival Coordinator, at 713.986.7808 or

For more information on Matlin’s appearance at Emanu El, contact Jason Plotkin at 713.535.6414 or

For information on ReelAbilities Houston, contact Andie Palagi, Festival Coordinator, at 713.986.7808 or


Registration has now closed. If you are interested in attending our program with Marlee Matlin, please bring cash or credit to Emanu El tonight and we'll process your payment then. Thanks for your patronage!

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