She’s 13 and was born deaf. Now Ewok is making history playing ‘Fortnite’

She’s 13 and was born deaf. Now Ewok is making history playing ‘Fortnite’

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“I wanted to really jump into that and make history,” Wheeler told CNN Business. “It’s a great opportunity to help inspire other girls… they can join any organization. They can play any game.”

The fan of Starbursts, Twix, sour green Skittles, and her four dogs (one of whom she says looks like an Ewok from “Star Wars”), knows she stands out. She is proud to be a role model.
Wheeler began broadcasting her video game play last October and has since gained more than 200,000 followers on Amazon’s Twitch streaming service. Wheeler is the first female to join Faze Clan, a famous esports organization that helps promote its 80-or-so players and train them for competitions.

“I was waiting for a really good offer. I wanted something that would be in my best interest, and I wanted to wait until the right one came along,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler played at the Fortnite World Cup last Friday. Many girls play Fortnite, but that representation was missing at the World Cup’s stage, where all of the 178 finalists were male.

“I have noticed it’s a male-dominated business. I know there was the belief way back that women were only good to be housewives and then men went out and had the career,” said Wheeler, “I think we’re a part of seeing that change now.”

Soleil "Ewok" Wheeler, 13, poses with her new team, Faze Clan, in New York.
Wheeler has been one of the only female streamers to play alongside famous gamer Ninja, after he told his viewers last August that he would no longer play with female gamers. He explained that he wanted to protect his marriage as some fans would spread rumors about whether he was romantically involved with these female streamers.

Wheeler called working with Ninja “special.”

“Gender doesn’t matter in this. The important thing is to support each other while you’re playing,” said Wheeler. “So I felt really cool, it was a really unique experience. But I wanted to show Ninja that anyone can play. Male, female, it doesn’t matter.”

She partnered with actor Jordan Fisher in the professionals versus amateurs tournament, placing 25th out of 50. They won $20,000 for charity. Wheeler said she would donate her share to help foster kids in Los Angeles.

“It’s important for kids to have a home, to have a place where they can start their own career and I want to be able to give them that opportunity to start that.”

Wheeler was born deaf. She uses sound visualization in the game so she can be aware of players walking up to her for an attack.

When playing with teammates, she will type through chat on a second monitor. “Sometimes having to physically move my hands over, somebody will shoot me. So I’ll try and rush my hands back over to play. It can be a little challenging,” she said.

Having a career online can come with the perils of online harassment from people emboldened by anonymity. While Wheeler’s fans are supportive, she still receives insensitive comments on social media.

“I just ignore it. I move on. I talk positively to people and I know who’s out there for me. And I’m out there for people too,” Wheeler said.

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