Watch CBS News

Justina Miles, deaf performer who went viral at Rihanna's Super Bowl halftime show, opens up in first interview since the game

Justina Miles on Super Bowl ASL performance
Deaf performer Justina Miles on energetic ASL performance of Rihanna's Halftime show 05:52

Deaf performer Justina Miles stole the show during Rihanna's Super Bowl halftime show -- and for the first time, she's opening up about her history-making performance.

Miles appeared on "CBS Mornings" to give her first interview since the big game. She appeared alongside Rihanna on the web livestream of the Eagles-Chiefs showdown, translating the pop star's medley into American Sign Language and leaping off the screen with her energetic performance. 

Miles, a nursing student at Bowie State University in Maryland, told "CBS Mornings" co-host Gayle King that she was excited to be the first deaf woman to sign the Super Bowl halftime show. She also signed "Lift Every Voice and Sing" before the game started. 

"I was thinking, before like getting there, 'I just hope that I pop off on a big scale, I hope I reach a big scale for the Deaf community," said Miles, who signed throughout the interview. "That's what I do and how I got in my zone." 

Miles has some hearing, and said that she is able to hear music, but is still considered deaf based on audiologist measurements. While Miles is training to be a nurse so she can advocate for deaf patients and lead the way for nurses who are deaf, she said another job she dreamed of was being a dancer or performer, making her appearance at the Super Bowl even more special. 

To get ready for the show, she started preparing as soon as she got the setlist five days before the big game. 

Rihanna on her long awaited return to the stage 01:28

"I was nervous," she admitted, laughing. "I got it. I was like 'I know all these songs.' ... What I did was look over the lyrics, make sure I got all the meanings right." 

Miles said she also memorized the lyrics so she could "sign the lyrics and move to the beat" so audiences can "see the beat" rather than hear it. Performing wasn't just a matter of getting the lyrics right, she said. She wanted to "be as visual as possible" to match Rihanna's performance style and "show her art." 

While Miles didn't actually meet Rihanna, they were able to chat over social media, where Rihanna complimented her energetic performance. Just like the rest of the world, Miles was surprised to learn that Rihanna was expecting her second child

"She did not look pregnant!" Miles laughed. "It was a surprise ... I found out after, way after." 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.