When The Walking Dead returns for Season 9, the big changes could possibly outnumber the elements that stayed the same. From time jumps to civilized locations to new survivors, it'll be a season like no other. One of the new faces we can look forward to seeing is that of acclaimed stage actress Lauren Ridloff, who is joining Season 9 as the comic-originated character Connie, marking The Walking Dead's first deaf member of its ever-changing ensemble.
Lauren Ridloff doesn't sound like she'll be a permanent fixture on the show, as it's reported she will be involved for a multi-episode arc. In its current state, the first character description for The Walking Dead's TV Connie doesn't go very far beyond what is already made clear by the casting choice. According to EW, Connie is called a "seasoned survivor" who is an expert at utilizing her senses beyond hearing in order to grasp situations, other people and potentially problems. It's specifically noted that, as a deaf woman, Connie uses American Sign Language to communicate, which is something that almost definitely comes in handy during intense circumstances where silence is key to remaining undetected.
Interestingly, the comics' Connie wasn't deaf, and neither have any of the other characters that Robert Kirkman created for the page. So that detail seems like it will be exclusive to the TV show, where sounds (and the lack thereof) are more easily depicted. And while the two versions may not share much in common, the comic version hasn't exactly been the most fleshed-out character, so she could use some extra development.
Connie was first introduced in the comics in Issue 127 (released back in May 2014), which was the first issue that followed up on the All Out War's conclusion. The two-year-or-so time jump had passed, and a new group led by a character named Magna were introduced, with Connie being one of its members. (Along with Kelly and Yumiko.) The Walking Dead was reportedly casting for Magna and Yumiko for Season 9, so the timing makes sense here.
A former Miss Deaf America, Lauren Ridloff found her career taking off in recent years, which quickly culminated in 2018 with her Tony Award-nominated performances in the most recent Broadway revival of Children of a Lesser God, which also stars Joshua Jackson and Anthony Edwards. She was nominated for awards outside of the Tonys as well, and was one of the most recent recipients of the Theatre World Award.