In the world of acting, there are some individuals who defy expectations and inspire us. One such standout is Rodney Burford, whose path to success took an unexpected turn when he secured a vital role in the Ryan Murphy-produced series, “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.”
Rodney Burford, a Deaf individual equipped with cochlear implants, nurtured aspirations of pursuing a career as a professional football player before fate intervened with an audition opportunity for the series “Dahmer.” Before this, Burford had only been on a reality TV show called Deaf U in 2020, along with some unintentional stage performances during his high school years.
Rodney Burford’s Standout Performance in “Dahmer” as Tony Hughes
Despite having no prior acting experience, Burford’s portrayal of Tony Hughes, a 31-year-old Black deaf man who becomes a victim of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, captivated audiences and earned him recognition.
Despite initially hesitating, Burford embraced the role and auditioned with a scene featuring Tony’s mother (portrayed by Karen Malina White). Burford closely observed Evan Peters’ transformation into Dahmer and took detailed notes. Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, Burford and Peters developed a strong chemistry during rehearsals. Burford even managed to make Peters break character, adding a touch of humor to a tense scene.
“It took me a while to realize that this is a real person that I’m portraying. I [wanted] to show so much homage to the person himself. I didn’t want to show Tony the victim, I wanted to show Tony the person. He had a life, and he accomplished a lot.”Rodney Burford
Controversies Surrounding “Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”
The series faced criticism from Tony Hughes’ mother and other victims’ families for deviating from the truth. They expressed disappointment over the lack of communication from the streaming platform and production team. While attempts were made to contact 20 families, no response was received.
Rodney Burford, who portrayed Tony Hughes, expressed his regret for not reaching out directly but understood the families’ perspective. He acknowledged that while he didn’t personally experience loss to Jeffrey Dahmer, he wanted to ensure respect for the real person he portrayed.
Rodney Burford, an admissions counselor at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C, plans to pursue acting in Los Angeles starting in August.
Despite the odds stacked against him, Burford’s exceptional performance in “Dahmer” showcases his determination and talent, making him a rising star to watch.