Wednesday, March 15, 2023

By News and Internal Communications

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Academy-award winning actress and activist Marlee Matlin will open UTRGV’s Spring 2023 Distinguished Speaker Series on Wednesday, March 22.

Matlin, who boldly challenges audiences to advocate for equity, inclusion, acceptance, and access for all people and to endeavor to live a life without judgment of others, will be speaking to the UTRGV community and public about her life and career during “An Evening with Marlee Matlin.”

“Student Activities is thrilled to feature actor, producer, author, activist, and Hollywood trailblazer, Marlee Matlin in the 2023 Distinguished Speaker Series. Her talent and journey are an inspiration to all,” said Rebecca Gadson, UTRGV dean of students. “She is an icon and role model who will inspire Vaqueros to dream big.”

The DSS event will be held at the TSC Performing Arts Complex in Brownsville.  Doors open at 7 p.m. for UTRGV students, faculty, and staff; 7:20 p.m. for the general public, and the event starts at 7:30 p.m. Members of the university community should be prepared to present their UTRGV student/employee ID at the door.

For those unable to attend in person, a livestream of the event will also be available. To access the livestream, register at


Matlin received worldwide critical acclaim for her film debut in Children of a Lesser God, and an Academy Award for Best Actress. At 21, she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar and only one of four actresses to receive the honor for her film debut.

In 2021, she was nominated once again, this time as executive producer for the Live Action Short, Feeling Through. And in 2022, her film CODA swept every category it which it was nominated at the 2022 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

She has starred in a variety of television projects, including her first foray into directing in 2022 as the first network television director who is Deaf. The project was the Fox TV anthology drama, Accused.

In addition to film, TV and stage work, Matlin broke barriers when she starred on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and in 2012, she released her first app – Marlee Signs – which teaches American Sign Language to millions of smart phone users.

She also has penned three children’s novels and a New York Times best-selling autobiography, I’ll Scream Later. In addition, she was elected to the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June 2022, representing the Actors Branch.


DSS is a signature program under the leadership of UTRGV Student Activities that aims to provide the university and surrounding community with world-class speakers and lecturers. DSS hosts public events with priority seating for UTRGV students, faculty, and staff. The series has most recently brought in notable speakers such as Actor and Producer John Leguizamo, CNN News Anchor Anderson Cooper, Academy Award-Winning Costume Designer Ruth Carter Grammy/Oscar award-winning R&B artist John Legend, and Pro Football Hall of Fame Running Back Emmitt Smith.

For more information about the DSS event, visit


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.