Season 9 of AMC's The Walking Dead has just added another familiar face from the long-running comic book series of the same name.
With a big time jump in Season 9 and major cast departures from Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan, it looks like it is time for some new blood on the hit TV show. As incoming showrunner Angela Kang tackles another arc from the comics, she is bringing several characters from the next chapter of the Image Comics title.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Tony Award-nominated actress Lauren Ridloff is joining The Walking Dead as Connie. Signing up for a multi-episode appearance in Season 9, Ridloff's casting comes after the announcement that John Bernthal is returning as Shane Walsh.
For those who haven't read Robert Kirman and Charlie Adlard's comics, Connie joins the world of The Walking Dead in Issue #127 and is currently still alive at the current Issue #181. Ridloff is deaf in real life, meaning that the live-action version of Connie will be a little different to her comic book counterpart.
The site describes the TV version of Connie as "a seasoned survivor deft at using her senses to read people, situations and trouble. Her character is deaf and uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate."
Ridloff was crowned Miss Deaf America in 2000 and rose to prominence thanks to her part as Sarah Norman in the Broadway revival of Children of Lesser God.
Elsewhere, producers are reportedly looking for two women to play the characters of Magna and Yukimo. The wave of new castings fits with the assumption that Kang will bring the villainous Whisperers into the show for Season 9.
Connie is found near Washington D.C. as part of a group led by Magna and is taken back to the Alexandria Safe-Zone. Trained as part of Rick Grimes' army, Connie eventually joins the militia to take on the Whisperers.
With Issue #127 being where the show last left fans following the events of the "All Out War" storyline, Season 9 will at least start alongside the comics. With this being The Walking Dead, audiences can expect a few changes along the way.
Although Ridloff has starred in several movies, The Walking Dead will be her TV debut. She may be the first deaf actress on The Walking Dead, but remember that Danai Gurira has the honor of being the show's first Tony-nominated star.
Kang has already promised that Season 9 will shift focus to the female characters of The Walking Dead, so the parts of Connie and possible arrivals of Magna, Yukimo and the Whisperers' leader Alpha certainly help to fulfill that promise.
The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The series returns for its ninth season in October.