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How Nyle DiMarco is Changing the Hearing World

Benedict Evans Nyle DiMarco

Photography by Benedict Evans. Styling by Alison Brooks. Grooming: Dallin James for The Wall Group. Shirt by Rick Owens available at Barney’s New York. Necklace by Ebb and Flow Jewlery.

After 21 cycles of America’s Next Top Model, many were through with Tyra Banks and her reality competition. Then came Nyle DiMarco, a 6-foot-2 blue-eyed beau who happens to be deaf, a first for the show. “The funny part is, it was never challenging for me,” says the Queens, N.Y.–born model. “I have over 25 deaf family members, and we all use American Sign Language.” 

DiMarco recently launched ASL App, a concept he pitched during an episode of ANTM. “We just hit 300,000 downloads, a milestone,” he says, adding that he hopes to reach a million. He also founded the Nyle DiMarco Foundation to improve the lives of deaf people through promoting bilingual education. 

Which doesn’t leave much time for a love life. “Dating is not my priority now,” he says. The model described himself as sexually “fluid” on Twitter last year in response to a fan’s question, though he is more coy about it now, perhaps because he’s too busy focusing on changing perceptions.

Since winning ANTM, he has toured deaf schools to share his tips for success with kids, and in March, he joined the cast of Dancing With the Stars, which introduced him to homes across the country. Time magazine raved about his performance. “It felt really good to see that they recognized me and my work,” he says. “I think [my dance partner] Peta and I truly broke the relationship between music and dancing. We were killing every step, and that was mind-blowing for the hearing people.” 

Nyle DiMarco is currently on Dancing With the Stars. He will also appear on Hulu's Difficult People, which returns for its second season on July 12.

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