About Dawn Jani

Represented by Glickman-Alexander Talent Management.

Dawn Jani Birley is an award-winning Canadian-Finnish actor with more than 15 years of experience. With a strong background in physical theatre and versatile acting abilities, Birley has starred in a variety of roles, most memorably Horatio in Prince Hamlet (earning her the Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best Actress in a Play) and Sarah in Sanaton Rakkaus (Children of Lesser God) opposite Santeri Kinnunen.

To pursue her dreams of becoming a professional actor, Dawn Jani had to leave Canada for Scandinavia, where she was classically trained by prominent theatre practitioners like Josette Bushell-Mingo, Debbie Rennie and Marianne Aro. After years of work with Teatteri Totti in Helsinki, Riksteatern Teater Crea in Stockholm and Teater Manu in Oslo, Birley went to London, UK to receive Master of Arts in Physical Theatre with Merit from St. Mary’s University. Her thesis explored the creative process of using intersectionality to bring the Deaf and hearing together on stage. 

Also named Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf Person of the Year and Swedish Riksteatern’s Artist of the Year, Birley’s performances have received stellar reviews: “As Horatio, Hamlet’s steadfast comrade, Dawn Jani Birley is the most riveting person in the room,” and “her onstage energy is unrivalled.” For her role as Joan in The Black Drum, an extraordinary, signed music musical, Toronto’s BroadwayWorld quoted, “As the heroine of the story, Birley delivers a powerhouse performance throughout the show.” And in Finland, “Sanaton rakkaus on ehdottomasti Birleyn näytelmä. Toivoisin näkeväni hänet jatkossakin muissa teatterituotannoissa.”

Dawn Jani Birley was born in Saskatchewan to third generation Deaf family and identifies herself as culturally and linguistically Deaf. Fluent in 9 languages with an uncanny ability for storytelling, she established 1s1 Theatre with the mission of bringing more Deaf-led stories to stage. Other than being an actor, she was a world-class athlete, a prowess in Taekwondo and represented Canada internationally for 5 years. 


Show reel



I was invited to write an article in a Finnish magazine Theatre&Dance&Circus, on page 32-33, about how deafness is often being used as an excuse not to hire or work with Deaf actors.