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13-year-old deaf Utah actress debuts in new movie with Oscar potential

Thirteen-year-old deaf actress Millicent Simmonds isn't just in the new movie "Wonderstruck," which is receiving rave reviews from early screenings — she is also living it.

Simmonds, who is originally from Utah, made her debut in the new film, and early reviews are calling her performance a "breakthrough" with a potential for an Oscar's win, according to Entertainment Weekly.

"In terms of 'Wonderstruck's' current Oscar prospects, judging by the response of film journalists, Simmonds is the film’s best acting bet (her work is being hailed as a breakthrough), and she could become the Academy’s first deaf honoree since Marlee Matlin triumphed for leading 1986’s 'Children of a Lesser God,'" EW reported.

Watch Simmonds in the trailer for the film below: the film, based on a novel of the same name by Caldecott Medal-winner Brian Selznick ("The Invention of Hugo Cabret"), Simmonds plays a young deaf girl living in 1927 who goes on a search to find her idol, played by Julianne Moore. The story juggles between her tale and that of a young boy (Oakes Fegley), who, in 1977, goes on a journey of his own to find his missing father. As the two make discoveries along their paths, their stories begin to intertwine.

Worth noting is that Simmonds' character in the film is also deaf, which plays an important role in the story, according to Deadline.

"The 13-year-old Simmonds, a deaf actress from Utah, will play Rose, whose half of 'Wonderstruck' will be presented as a silent film in both a nod to movie history and an aesthetic designed to capture her perspective," Deadline wrote. "In addition, this section of the narrative will see an unprecedented number of deaf actors in roles that would normally go to hearing actors."

The film recently showed for the first time on May 17 to positive reviews at the Cannes Film Festival, and will be in theaters for a limited release on Oct. 20.

It was directed by Tom Haynes, known for his work on "Carol," which was released in 2015 and received six Oscar nominations. Michelle Williams will also star in the new movie.

Here's what people are saying on Twitter about "Wonderstruck."

Brittany Binowski is a senior web producer for Deseret National. You may contact her at or tweet her online @binowski.