While New Yorkers watched an update from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg about Hurricane Sandy, many did not believe a star would be born during his press conference.
As Mayor Bloomberg delivered his message, a wide-eyed, overly animated sign language interpreter named Lydia Callis stole the show and became a viral spectacle.
Callis is the mayor's official sign language interpreter, expected to translate the latest news as Mayor Bloomberg delivers for the estimated 70 million deaf people across the world, according to figured from the World Federation of the Deaf.
By Wednesday, many photos, GIFs and videos emerged online of Callis, who became an Internet sensation overnight, due to her lively interpretation of Bloomberg's announcement.
Meanwhile, Callis told the New York Post she is just happy to do her job.
“I’m here to serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,” Callis told the Post. “I’m just glad, and I’m honored, that I was able to get the message out there . . . and that’s what it’s all about.”
Callis added she's happy to help make the situation a little bit easier, not focusing on all the negative horrible things that are happening.”
Callis immediately attracted the attention of major news outlets, like NYMag which said said, "Callis's signing is both lightning-fast and emotive, her animated face lighting up and contorting happily as she goes, not unlike a guitarist during a blistering solo." The New York Times called her "pretty hard to miss" when interpreters "generally go unnoticed, blending in with the aides or elected officials that surround a mayor or a governor at such events."
Callis graduated in 2010 from Rochester's American Sign Language and Interpreting Education program, which Bloomberg News said is the largest interpreter training in the country.
A former professor of Calliss', Linda Siple told Bloomberg News Callis is “highly motivated, gracious and professional."
“Lydia was an excellent student,” Siple told Bloomberg News. “She was very motivated with the deaf community here.”
A Tumblr page, Lydia Callis's Face for Mayor, emerged with images and GIFs of her lively expressions. On YouTube, one user set music to her signing gestures in tune with each beat. The Daily Beast also released its own video, entitled, "We Love You, Lydia Callis."
“Amid the gloom and doom of Sandy, one woman has broken through as a shining beacon of optimism: Mayor Bloomberg’s expressive interpreter,” the Daily Beast wrote. “We love you, Lydia Callis.”
On Twitter, Callis sparked much rhetoric.
"The sign language language lady in Bloomberg's press conference entourage has way too much swag for this. She is hypnotizing," wrote user network.
"I am mesmorized by the sign language translator to Mayor Bloomberg's right," wrote user colbyhall.
"I tell ya, the real star of Mayor Bloomberg's press conferences is that animated sign language translator he's got. Can't look away.#sandy," wrote user JCamm_.
And in her own defense, Callis said the nature of sign language is why she is so animated.
“American Sign Language is a very visual language, so sometimes you have to use pictures to describe what people are saying in English," she told The Post.
Meanwhile, a parody Twitter account of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, El Miguel Bloombito, speaking in Spanish is all the rage, but that's another story.