Without acting "I would be selling drugs or in jail by now" says Hastings' Casey
Without acting, Casey James Croft is convinced he would be selling drugs or banged up in jail by now.
Acting has given him the crucial means to see that his disability can actually become his ability.
In his head, as he says, is the determination to become the “first big deaf actor”; and the signs are good that he is going to make it.
21-year-old Casey is in the feature film Brighton which will be released at the beginning of June; and this summer, he will taking a key role in another new film Uncaged.
“My hearing is like being under water. I don’t really hear. I just get vibrations. I am classed as deaf. I don’t hear sounds, just vibrations. I lost my hearing when I was 16. I started slowly losing it when I was 13. I had hearing aids, but when I was 16 my hearing just went. I went too low for hearing aids to work. They said it might have been due to the flu.”
Casey, who says he grew up in “two of the roughest areas in Hastings”, lost his way when he lost his hearing: “I felt well depressed. I went downhill. People were taking the mick out of me because of my hearing aids. I didn’t cope with it.”
He got kicked out of school – and sent to College Central, the pupil referral unit or PRU for East Sussex, a place which offers full-time educational opportunities for students who are at risk of permanent exclusion or have been permanently excluded.
Its approach is re-engagement with learning; and it introduced Casey to acting: “I thought I am going to carry on being who I am and it is not going to stop me. I felt I had the confidence to be myself. And I did that through acting. When I was acting, I was being somebody else, and that built up confidence in being myself. I just thought ‘I am deaf. So what?’ And I got it into my head that I am going to be the first big deaf actor, that I was going to use my disability as my ability, my advantage.
“Acting has kept me on the right track. I know that if I don’t go down that track, I won’t get to where I want to be. It’s a dream and a goal. I don’t want to be hanging around with the wrong people. I want to do good by my family. Acting has saved my life. If I hadn’t had a teacher who got me into acting, I would be selling drugs or in jail by now.”
That teacher was Matt Jacobs – and thanks to the start he has given Casey, it is all starting to come together.
“I was in a film called Brighton which was filmed in Hastings and Brighton. A lot of people know me in Hastings and know of my acting. The film crew came to Hastings and I had a random message on Facebook saying ‘You are an amazing person and you would be perfect for the role.’ I play a drag queen. I had never done anything like that before. My character is a person who doesn’t take rubbish from anyone. He is what he is. He is very open.
“And I have got another film this year, hopefully being made in August and releasing in January. It is called Uncaged. It is about a guy that comes out of jail and people are after him for the reason he was in jail and they start messing with his kids and his family. I am one of the main characters in that film.”
Filmed in Hastings, Bexhill, Brighton and Eastbourne, the film Brighton brought together actors Larry Lamb (The Hatton Garden Job, EastEnders), Phil Davis (Vera Drake, Riviera), Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey, The Full Monty) and Marion Bailey (Peterloo, Allied).
The film is available to buy on DVD from Asda and Morrison stores, plus online on Amazon. It can be streamed on Amazon, Google Play, Apple TV and Hulu – supermarkets and streaming all from June 7.
The film was co-written and directed by Stephen Cookson (Stanley, A Man of Variety, My Angel).