Real Talk with Justina Miles

Justina Miles was the first deaf woman to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. Her sign-language performance of Rihanna’s songs went viral.
By Cristina Fernandez
Woman posing in football stadium
Miles poses for a photo at State Farm Stadium, in Glendale, Arizona, where she performed songs in sign language at the Super Bowl in February 2023.

Justina Miles is a sign-language performer. Her work is essential to making live performances and events more accessible to deaf or hard-of-hearing audiences. Miles’s performance at the 2023 Super Bowl went viral and brought attention to her important job. 

Miles was also a member of the Team U.S.A. track-and-field team at the 2021 Deaflympics. She is currently studying nursing at Bowie State University, in Maryland. 

Your Hot Job spoke to Miles about her job as a performer and all the other incredible things she does. 

What led you to a career as a performer?

I’ve always had a passion for the stage. I grew up watching family members perform at various places, and would always end up joining them. I also participated in dance programs. I pursued every opportunity where I could be onstage and radiate my energy. 

How do you prepare for performances?

Once I get the set list [for a musical performance], I review all the lyrics to make sure I get the meanings right during the performance. I memorize the lyrics and the beats. This allows me to sign the lyrics and move to the beat, and people can see the beat through my movements. 

What have been your most memorable performing jobs, and why?

My most memorable performances would be the Super Bowl pregame and halftime shows. It was a historic moment for me and the deaf community. I have also worked at festivals, such as Rolling Loud and Austin City Limits, with an incredible team of deaf performers. We delivered nothing but greatness. That teamwork and unique talent we individually share and beautifully display is the representation we work toward every day.

Who is a mentor who helped you get to where you are today?

My deaf mother has been my guide since day 1. She has overcome many obstacles and shown me what true resilience looks like. 

You do so many things: nursing, track-and-field, and more. How do you manage all these activities?

It’s important to not only keep your mind and body busy, but to grab every opportunity that comes your way, big or small. The opportunity to be nice to a stranger, to be the solution wherever a problem arises, to clear the bar! I see so much good I can do for myself and the world. I only want to contribute. But it is easy to get overwhelmed and wrapped up in responsibilities. So balance is crucial. The secret to juggling life is to ensure time for yourself, so you can enjoy and maximize your progress in anything you put your mind to, especially your passions.

What advice would you have for children who are interested in becoming sign-language performers?

If you’re interested in becoming a sign-language performer, it’s important that you learn the language from the deaf community. There are so many beautiful aspects about our cultures and nuances that you can only pick up from someone who’s intimately part of the community.