Photo: Rob Carr / Staff via Getty Images and Gregory Shamus / Staff via Getty Images
  /  02.18.2023

Last Sunday (Feb. 12), social media was buzzing as millions of Super Bowl LVII viewers reacted to Rihanna’s head-turning halftime show. While the beauty icon had fans captivated by her glowing red choreography and floating stages, ASL interpreter Justina Miles also delivered a performance of a lifetime.

A series of social media posts turned the Bowie State University nursing student into a viral sensation as onlookers raved at how explosive her movements were as she signed songs such as “Work,” “Rude Boy” and “Pour It Up.”

In her first post-performance interview, Miles chatted with CBS’ Gayle King about the preparation that went into the show that drew in more than 118 million viewers. “I got the setlist about five days before the show, and I was nervous before getting the stuff, like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is she going to do?’ So I got them, and I’m like, ‘I know all the songs,’” she told King.

Her familiarity with the singer’s catalog made it easy for her confidence to shine throughout the 13-minute set. When asked how she managed to stay on beat despite her deaf diagnosis — early on in the interview, Miles disclosed she has a minimal sense of hearing — she said that her focus was on ensuring the deaf community could feel the lively show.

“I can sign the lyrics and move to the beat so they can see the beat rather than hear the beat,” explained Miles about her process of signing the singer’s chart-topping hits. She continued, “I’m really trying to show her art, like really show her art, show it through how I feel, through her songs, how the artist is… she’s a visual performer, so I tried to be as visual as possible.”

The aspiring dancer/performer added that she practiced for a week on her own and rehearsed the entire show with Rihanna, the dancers and the sound crew. “We ran through it again and again.”

You can view the full interview below.

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