ASL performer goes viral with 'WAP,' says concert interpreters 'shouldn't be shocking'

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Three women dancing on a stage
Megan Thee Stallion performs at Saturday's edition of Lollapalooza. ASL interpreter Kelly Kurdi's performance of "WAP" during the rapper's set is a hit on social media. (Amy Harris / Invision/Associated Press)

After drawing widespread admiration for her dynamic performance of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion's "WAP" at Lollapalooza, American Sign Language interpreter Kelly Kurdi is giving credit where credit is due.

As of Tuesday morning, a video of Kurdi signing along to the rap duo's sex-positive summer anthem at Chicago's Lollapalooza music festival over the weekend has racked up more than 9 million views on TikTok.

In the clip, Kurdi can be seen dancing and making various choking and gagging motions while Megan Thee Stallion commands the stage and a recording of Cardi B raps, "I don't wanna spit, I wanna gulp / I wanna gag, I wanna choke / I want you to touch that lil' dangly thing that swing in the back of my throat."

In response to her viral fame, Kurdi gave a shout-out to the original creator of the "WAP" interpretation, dancer Raven Sutton, while advocating for greater accessibility on the live-music scene.

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"If you're new to my page, you'll quickly see this is a space meant to amplify the work of Deaf creators and to provide access to social media content for the Deaf community," Kurdi wrote Tuesday on Instagram.

"I'm a hearing interpreter, so I do not teach. In this post I will direct you to some amazing Deaf ASL teachers, Deaf influencers, and other Deaf content creators."

In the caption of her post, Kurdi thanked hearing people for their support while insisting she's "just an interpreter passionate about providing access to a community I love and have learned everything from."

Among the Deaf and hard-of-hearing creators and community leaders tagged by Kurdi were Sutton (@freelove19xx), @_jtay_ @deafinitelydope, @redmenace11, @slntwrlddd, @msdeafqueen, @itscharmay, @queen_beeezy and @fitbymartise.

"Do your part to make the world more accessible and caption your content!" Kurdi continued. "Provide ASL interpreters whenever possible. Support Deaf creators. And if you're still wondering why deaf or hard of hearing people go to concerts follow these pages and learn something new.

"Seeing an interpreter at a concert shouldn't be shocking. Seeing a deaf interpreter on tour with every artist should be the norm."

After watching the video of Kurdi interpreting Megan Thee Stallion's Lollapalooza set, a slew of TikTok users sang her praises in the comment section.

"she KNEW the assignment, and dare I say..ate it up," one person replied to the clip, posted by TikTok user @vitalsenise.

"I'm Deaf and interpreters at concerts and plays are phenomenal cause they're part of the process and production so they're super well rehearsed," wrote another person.

On Twitter, several people shared the footage of Kurdi while celebrating Sutton for her suave interpretation of the steamy track, which she debuted Aug 7. 2020 — the same day "WAP" broke the internet upon its buzzy release.

"Before someone asks me again: 1. yes I've seen this video, 2. [Kurdi] killed this interpretation but @Freelove19xx is the original DEAF creator of the WAP interpretation," tweeted an ASL interpreter.

"Might I add, @Freelove19xx would have done an excellent job as well (if you haven't seen her signing 'WAP', you're missing out)," another person wrote.

Megan Thee Stallion and Kurdi performed "WAP" during the third day of this year's Lollapalooza event at Chicago's Grant Park. Miley Cyrus, Black Pumas, Roddy Ricch, Foo Fighters, Post Malone and Tyler, the Creator were also on the bill, unlike rapper DaBaby, who was dropped after a homophobic rant sparked multiple festival cancellations.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.