Alaqua Cox

Alaqua Cox is Echo in Disney+ series 'Hawkeye'

KESHENA, Wis. (AP) — Alaqua Cox was hesitant at first to audition for a role starring in a new Marvel series on Disney+, according to her relative, Lindsay Besaw.

The studio was looking to cast a young Native American actress who is deaf opposite to Jeremy Renner, who plays Clint Barton - the former Avenger Hawkeye.

Cox, 24, is a citizen of the Menominee Nation and has a lot friends in the deaf community who told her she fit the role perfectly, Besaw said.

Without any acting experience, she took her shot and landed the role in the Hawkeye series currently streaming on Disney+, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.

“Alaqua is an adventurer,” Besaw said. “She’s traveled the world for her young age.”

The studio also was looking for an actor to play the child version of Cox’s character for flashback scenes and the casting director asked Cox if she had any child relatives who look like her.

Besaw received a call from Cox’s mom asking if her daughter, Darnell, now 8, would be willing to audition.

“I never thought she would have this opportunity,” Besaw said. “She’s very quiet and introverted. I initially said `No, I can’t see her doing that.”’

She thought it would be too much stress for her young daughter.

A few days went by and Cox’s mom called again, and this time Besaw said they’d “give it a whirl.”

Cox sent videos to Darnell showing her how to use sign language as her character would have to do.

Darnell made it past the audition and was cast as young Maya, starring alongside another Indigenous actor, Zahn McClarnon, who plays Maya’s father on the show.

“It was definitely an adventure,” Besaw said. “It took her out of her little shell.”

Darnell’s filming was this past spring in Atlanta, and the first episode streamed on Nov. 24.

“There’s no way to describe it,” Besaw said. “There’s an overwhelming sense of pride.”

Back on the reservation, Besaw said Darnell is taking well to her newfound celebrity, as everyone wants to take photos with her.

“She’s a little star in her community now,” Besaw said, describing how everyone is proud to see a little girl from Menominee make it big. “A lot of people get pretty emotional about it. People get choked up and teary-eyed.”

And she said not only is Cox an inspiration for Indigenous people, but also for those in the deaf community.

Cox also has a leg deficiency and is an amputee with a prosthetic leg, which comes in handy during a fight scene on the show.

Cox’s great uncle, Douglas Cox, is the vice chairman for the Menominee Nation. He said the two Menominee actors are an inspiration and a source of pride for Indigenous people throughout Indian Country, not just on the Menominee Reservation.

He said their celebrity helps the Menominee tribe and all Indigenous tribes be recognized and represented.

Cox’s father, with whom she was very close, recently passed away and she is in mourning. But Besaw said Cox plans to move to Atlanta within a few months to start filming for a spin-off series called “Echo,” with Cox as the main star.

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