The hundred million television fans tuning in to watch Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 may see two women with roots in Rochester performing the National Anthem.
Opera star Renee Fleming, a graduate of Eastman School of Music, will sing the anthem as Amber Zion, an actress who graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, will sign the anthem using American Sign Language.
“I was told that her voice is beautiful and graceful, which is perfect because it will match my American Sign Language translation,” said Zion, who is deaf. “I’m really looking forward to it!”
Zion was chosen for the event after she submitted an audition video to the National Association of the Deaf last fall. NAD has worked with the Super Bowl since 2008, when a commercial entirely in sign language was televised during the pregame show.
“The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched events of the year,” said NAD CEO Howard Rosenblum. “Integrating American Sign Language into the performance of the National Anthem during the pregame not only raises awareness of ASL, it also helps to ensure that this iconic event is inclusive for all Americans.”
A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Zion graduated from RIT/NTID in 2004 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She also earned a certificate in 2003 in Script Emphasis in Performing Arts and appeared in many productions in NTID’s Robert F. Panara Theatre and in The Tempest off Broadway at the Interborough Repertory Theatre in New York City.
She and her husband, Ari Zion, a 2004 graduate of RIT/NTID with a degree in Applied Arts and Sciences, live in Los Angeles. She has appeared in several films. She was featured on a Kay Jewelers Christmas commercial for several years and had a starring role on CBS’s CSI:NY episode, Silent Night.
Zion performed the National Anthem when she was in high school, when the Pittsburgh Steelers were in a playoff game. “That was the most amazing experience,” she said. “I can only imagine the experience I will have at the Super Bowl this year. I’m honored to be a part of it, and I can’t wait to share the beauty of ASL with the world.