Stern began her career in 2001, with 'The WB' sitcom 'Off Centre,' in which she played the brief role of 'Rebecca.' Then, in 2003, she got her first prominent TV role when she was cast as the recurring character 'Holly Brodeen' in the ‘ABC’ drama 'Threat Matrix.'
The character 'Holly Brodeen,' who was shown working for an elite government anti-terrorist task force, was initially not supposed to be on the show. The show's producers decided to create it for Stern when she was recommended by a director who had previously worked with her in the 'Lifetime' police-procedural drama 'The Division.' The series ‘The Division’ featured her along with Marlee Matlin, and Stern played a rape victim in it.
Stern made her film debut playing Matthew Broderick's (as 'Steven Schats') on-screen girlfriend in the 2004 comedy 'The Last Shot.' That year, she was seen in the recurring role of 'Megan Graves Beals,' a functionally deaf high-school girl, in the first two seasons of the 'Showtime' dark comedy–drama 'Weeds' (2005–2006 and 2012). 'Megan' was the first serious girlfriend of the show's lead character, 'Silas Andrew Botwin,' played by Hunter Parrish. Stern perfectly played the part of a girl undergoing trauma for being bullied.
From 2006 to 2008, Stern played her other prominent TV role. She was cast as deaf 'Bonnie Richmond' in the 'CBS' post-apocalyptic action–drama 'Jericho.' The show featured her as the younger sister of the character 'Stanley.' 'Bonnie' was shown turning rebellious after the 9/11 attacks. Initially, the character was not supposed to be deaf, but the creators were highly impressed by Stern's acting skills and made the change just to cast her.
In 2008, Stern played 'Annie' in the feature film 'Adventures of Power' and 'Valerie Park' in the Joseph Sargent-directed TV movie 'Sweet Nothing in My Ear' (adapted from Stephen Sachs's 1998 play of the same name).
Stern appeared in the popular music video of 'Yes We Can,' the promotional single for Barack Obama’s campaign, written and produced by 'The Black Eyed Peas' frontman will.i.am.
She was seen as the recurring character 'Sarah' in the third season of the 'Fox' crime drama 'Lie to Me,' which began in 2010. The same year, she played 'Kristi,' the girlfriend of the title character (portrayed by Russell Harvard), in the biopic 'The Hammer: The Matt Hamill Story.' The film was about the deaf wrestler and mixed martial artist Matt Hamill.
Stern returned on screen with an appearance (as herself) in the 2013 family-friendly drama film 'No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie.' Then, in 2015, she portrayed American author, political activist, and lecturer Helen Keller in the 'Comedy Central' period sitcom 'Another Period.'
In 2016, she began playing the recurring character of hunter ‘Eileen Leahy' in 'The WB' dark fantasy 'Supernatural.' Stern reprised the role in the final season of the series, in 2019.
Continue Reading Below
Stern displayed wonderful on-screen chemistry (as ‘Kate’) with Joshua Feldman (as ‘Michael') in their self-created dramedy series 'This Close.' The series premiered at the 2017 ‘Sundance Film Festival's “Episodic Showcase,” as ‘The Chances.’
In 2020, she began playing TV's first-ever recurring deaf character, 'Dr. Lauren Riley,' in the ‘ABC’ medical drama 'Grey's Anatomy.' It was later revealed that the character was her brainchild. Apparently, she had pitched the idea of the character to showrunner Krista Vernoff when she was drowsy because of some medicine that she had taken to cure her mild cold.
With this character, Stern also promoted the importance of deaf representation in the entertainment industry. It was her token of gratitude to all the real-life deaf people working in the medical and healthcare sectors.
Stern's stage credits include the 'Tony'-winning play 'Children of a Lesser God,' originally composed by Mark Medoff. She played the protagonist 'Sarah Norman,' a former deaf student in a conflicted professional and romantic relationship with her teacher, 'James Leeds.' The play was staged at the 'Deaf West Theatre,' and the revival was directed by Joe Giamalva.
Stern also appeared as 'Susan' in the Eric Simonson-directed 'Open Window,' another 'Deaf West Theatre' production.
She played 'Juliet' in Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet,' produced by the 'California School for the Deaf Theatre Program' and directed by Julianna Fjeld.
Stern also appeared in 'Aladdin,' John Willard's 'The Cat and the Canary' (as 'Annabelle'), 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum' (as 'Gymnasia'), and Lucy Maud Montgomery's 'Anne of Green Gables' (as 'Anne'), all by the 'California School for the Deaf Theatre Program.'
Family & Personal Life
Stern's sister, Louise Stern, is a writer and artist, while her brother, Brendan Stern, has been a basketball coach at 'Gallaudet' and currently works as a political scientist. She belongs to a family of Holocaust survivors.
The word “Stern” means "lily flower" in Hebrew.
In spite of being deaf, she can read lips and speak English without an interpreter.
Stern is married to her long-time boyfriend, Ricky Mitchell. Their wedding took place on June 3, 2012, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The two have a daughter named Mayim Helene Mitchell, born on February 18, 2015.
She owned a dog name Puck, who died in 2018.
Stern works for the Oakland, California-based non-profit organization 'DeafHope,' which works for women victims of domestic and sexual violence. In 2011, as part of the social-media movement 'Lavender Revolution,' she appeared in the 'YouTube' video 'Why is Shoshannah Stern Pissed Off?,' to speak against sexual harassment of deaf women at the workplace.
She has also supported 'All You Need is Love,' a fundraising campaign for the non-profit organization 'Off-The-Grid Missions,' which provides survival tools in high-risk and remote regions around the world.