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Sophie Li

Inspirational Speaker

Sophie Li, daughter of renowned ballet dancer and author Li Cunxin was born profoundly deaf. Unable to benefit from regular hearing aids, Sophie became one of the first children in America to receive a cochlear implant, during the time when there was fierce scepticism in the US about its capability and success. With implants in both ears, Sophie worked hard on her speech and hearing, attending a mainstream school and pushing herself to extraordinary lengths – such as learning the violin, cello and piano, speaking in Mandarin Chinese and performing Ballet, Jazz and Tap.

Sophie inspires through her unique story of being deaf in a hearing world. She actively engages her audience about the challenges in life, the pros and cons of being the only deaf person in many situations, and reminding people that life can be funny sometimes!

Sophie works extensively with Hear For You – an organisation inspiring and assisting young people with cochlear implants and/or hearing aids.

Where were you born?

Texas USA.

What other jobs have you had?

After completing a Bachelor of Environments at the University of Melbourne, I worked in property management in one of the most prestigious firms in Melbourne. Currently, I am a professional dancer in the first ever Deaf and hearing dance company in Australia, and spend my time mentoring and working for Hear for You.

What themes are recurring in your work?

In my talks I cover the themes of hard work leading to success, how mistakes can be a fantastic learning experience and sometimes it’s okay not to be perfect!

What have been the highlights of your career?

Some of the highlights of my career include completing Year 12 VCE in the top 5% of the state, receiving the Premier’s Award for VCE Dance, graduating from my degree at Melbourne Uni, being able to work in many of my dream jobs, and being awarded the 2009 Graeme Clarke Scholarship. Right now, my biggest achievement is inspiring others to be at their best. There is more to come, stay tuned.

What are you passionate about?

Dance. Living with deafness. Finding a balance between life, work and relationships. I am also passionate about languages, and I aspire to be fluent in more than two languages.

Haven’t I seen you before?

You may have! My father is the author of Mao’s Last Dancer and I appeared with him on ABC’s Australian Story in late 2012. I am also a leading ambassador for many organisations that deal with deafness and hearing impairment.


Sophie was fantastic, and the kids absolutely loved it. Thanks for providing another fantastic speaker for our College. We really appreciate it and will continue booking these sessions with you in future.

—F. Ibbott, Monbulk College, July 2013

Sophie Li’s confident style and positive energy were evident at a recent fundraising corporate function held by Mercedes Benz in Melbourne. Sophie was able to engage with the audience in talking about her experiences in being hearing impaired and working with Hear for You as a mentor. Sophie is knowledgeable and a natural communicator and so is a wonderful advocate for the deaf and hearing impaired.

—O. Andersen, Hear For You Ltd Founder, October 2012

Recently Sophie was a guest lecturer to a group of undergraduate students at The University of Melbourne where I teach. Students and other lecturers in the audience agreed that her speech was informative, moving and inspiring. Sophie has a knack for imparting knowledge while providing students with a deeper appreciation of her subject matter.

—K. Leigh, Tutor for Deafness and Communication, University of Melbourne, October 2012

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