Deaf actress Maisie Sly plays Libby in the film
British Oscar winners Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton have described the “surreal” moment their film, which stars a six-year-old deaf girl, scooped an Academy Award.
The pair won best live action short film for The Silent Child.
Young actress Maisie Sly, who is deaf, plays Libby, who lives in a world of silence until a social worker teaches her the gift of communication.
Maisie auditioned for the role after her parents replied to a post on Facebook, appealing for a deaf child who communicates entirely through sign language.
Rachel, 30, a former Hollyoaks actress, wrote, produced and starred in the film.
Rachel wrote the film after becoming passionate about the issue when her father became deaf when she was young.
Collecting the prize, Rachel delivered her speech in sign language saying: “I made a promise to our six-year-old lead actress that I’d sign this speech.”
And she added: “My hands are shaking so I apologise.”
Later, she hailed the young British actress as “a star”.
“She did the red carpet with us and then sat with her mum,” Rachel said.
“I didn’t want her to not look at me and look at the interpreter. I made a promise and I kept it even though I was a bit shaky,” she said of her winner’s speech.
The short film is now in over 600 cinemas in the US.
“The message is super important, raising the profile of deafness. There are so many deaf children. It’s a subject that hasn’t been talked about,” Rachel said.
Chris – who is engaged to Rachel – directed the film.
“It’s mindblowing. What a woman. I’m such a lucky man I really am,” he said.
While Rachel joked of her fiance: “He’s all right.”
The British soap stars are best known for playing Mitzeee Minniver and Liam McAllister in the C4 show Hollyoaks.
They fended off competition from short films DeKalb Elementary, The Eleven O’Clock, My Nephew Emmett, Watu Wote/All Of Us at the glittering ceremony.
On receiving her award, Rachel had said: “Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence.
“It’s not exaggerated or sensationalised for the movie, this is happening, millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers and particularly access to education.
“Deafness is a silent disability, I want to say the biggest of thank yous to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience.”