Inside Broadway Star Sidney DuPont's Experience With Cholesteatoma As A Child - Exclusive

Sidney DuPont has two Broadway musicals and a Tony Award nomination under his belt. An impressive resume for any young actor in an extremely competitive business. However, in the case of 30-year-old DuPont, his journey to Broadway is particularly inspirational. DuPont is deaf in one ear, a potentially major drawback in a field where hearing is a vital part of the job.

When DuPont was around 8 years old, he was diagnosed with cholesteatoma, an abnormal, but benign cyst-like growth that develops behind the eardrum. Cholesteatoma is a rare condition — only nine out of every 100,000 Americans are diagnosed with it each year — and removing a cholesteatoma early favors a good outcome, per WebMD. However, if a cholesteatoma goes untreated, it can cause serious damage to the inner ear or brain.

Dr. Enrique Perez, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology at Mount Sinai, explains that untreated cholesteatomas can lead to infection and destroy the bones in the ear that are responsible for your ability to hear. One of the most notable people to go public about having a cholesteatoma, that caused him to become deaf in one ear, is late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert.

Health Digest caught up with DuPont, who is currently singing, acting, and dancing up a storm in the Civil-War era Broadway musical "Paradise Square." He reveals his experience of being diagnosed with a cholesteatoma at a young age and how being hard of hearing has impacted his musical theatre career.

How Sidney DuPont's cholesteatoma led to his hearing loss

At around 5 years old, DuPont was diagnosed with an ear infection. He was swimming a lot during summer camp and doctors said the pool water wasn't draining from his ear properly, causing the infection.

Over several years, DuPont was treated for what his doctors said were recurring ear infections until an ENT specialist correctly diagnosed DuPont with a cholesteatoma. By then, precious time had elapsed. DuPont remembered bawling when the doctor delivered the news that he would always be deaf in one ear. "There was so much talk about how my hearing loss could have been remedied, that there was a way to have saved it," he said. His family ended up suing the original clinic that misdiagnosed him.

Despite experiencing this trauma as a young child, DuPont said he didn't notice he was hard of hearing. He noted, however, that by then, he had developed a speech impediment, which was later connected to his hearing loss. As a result, he saw speech and hearing specialists throughout his teens while attending the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.

DuPont underwent five surgeries until he was about 12, including cleaning out excessive pus and drainage, an unsuccessful eardrum reconstruction, and an attempt to create a prosthetic eardrum, which also didn't work due to the infection from the cholesteatoma going untreated for so long. However, he recently saw an ENT who said there was a surgery that could potentially restore his hearing. While promising news, DuPont said he needs to do more research before taking any action since his body is an integral part of his career.

Why Sidney DuPont finally went public about being hard of hearing

While he never intentionally kept it a secret, DuPont admitted that working in an industry where he doesn't have much control over outcomes may have influenced him to subconsciously conceal his hearing loss to avoid more rejection. He decided to go public about his condition a few months ago because he had arrived at a point in his career where the world saw his talent and felt he had a responsibility "to open that door and then leave it open for people to come in after." In the months since going public about his cholesteatoma and being hard of hearing, many people who had been quiet about their own hearing loss have reached out to him, he said.

While DuPont said he manages very well hearing out of only one ear, he had a scare a few years back when he flew to Australia to perform in "BEAUTIFUL — The Carole King Musical." After the sixteen-hour flight, his hearing ear wouldn't pop and he couldn't hear anything. "I was terrified," he said. "I was supposed to go on pretty much the next day." Thankfully, he found an ENT who gave him pills that released the pressure in his ear.

That experience made him more conscious of the fragility of his situation. If he lost the hearing in his good ear, it would change the course of his career. "So, I'm very blessed that I have what I do have," he said.

Sidney DuPont is an actor, dancer, director, editor, cinematographer and screenwriter. He is currently starring on Broadway in the original musical Paradise Square, which earned him his first Tony Award nomination. DuPont made his Broadway debut in Beautiful — The Carole King Musical, and has toured the country with Memphis and A Chorus Line, among others. You can connect with Sidney and follow his journey on Instagram @SidneyDuPont.