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Manuel Cortez is a creative allrounder: Actor, photographer, director, and fashion expert. What’s more, the host of the German style-counselling TV show “Schrankalarm”  (ed. loosely translates to Closet Alert) and author of several guidebooks on style and fashion is always on the move. From movie and photo shoots to events and social gatherings – Manuel never slows down. But despite his glamorous lifestyle, Manuel is no stranger to personal challenges and hurdles. Read his full story here.

From the outside everything looks just wonderful: Starting in 2006 when Manuel gets a role in the German Telenovela “Verliebt in Berlin”,  his career picks up speed early on. Working as a stylist, photographer, director, and actor in Germany’s dazzling capital Berlin, he’s on top of the world with his very public victory on the TV-Show “Let’s dance” in 2013. The German public knows Manuel Cortez for his TV presence and his unique take on style and fashion – but remains in the dark about his hearing issues. As the result of an accident while wakeboarding Manuel tore his eardrum, leaving him with 80% hearing on his right ear and 65% on his left ear, respectively. Inflammations in his middle ear from when he was a child contribute to the development of his hearing loss. Manuel receives the diagnosis right after his accident in 2012, but he decides to leave his hearing loss untreated for quite some time.

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Hearing well is not just important to me as an actor and music-lover. The idea of not being able to hear the ocean smashing waves against the shore is an unbearable thought.

Manuel Cortez

For Manuel, hearing aids are medical devices “for the elderly” – not meant to be worn by young, successful men of style. They simply don’t match his fashion taste, his profession, and self-image. Manuel remembers how his hearing loss started affecting his professional life: “All too often I would miss a We’re rolling on set.” Finding himself in social situations with many people having a conversation at once, Manuel had problems following who said what. “My wife suspected me of not listening to her properly.” He can laugh about these anecdotes today but remembers how he would neglect his hearing issues back then. “You’re aware that something isn’t right, but it doesn’t really hurt you, so you just end up doing nothing about it”, he recalls.

Four years later, Manuel has a sudden change of heart after a conversation with a friend of his, who also happens to be an actor. The occupational bond helps Manuel to overcome his prejudice about hearing aids: “He was the first person I met who wasn’t ‘old’ wearing hearing aids.” After this encounter, Manuel decides to seek help and get a hearing aid fitting from a professional: “They were black which made them significantly less visible. But still, I felt and saw that large object behind my ear every day”.

But Manuel makes a decision. He wears his hearing aids at public outings and starts talking openly about his condition.

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Behind closed doors, Manuel doesn’t feel as comfortable as he portraits himself in public. His hearing has improved with his hearing aids, but it’s far from perfect. He’s also bothered by the daily routine that comes with most hearing aids: Empty batteries are a major inconvenience. His ears hurt and feel uncomfortable after long periods of wear. With time, he comes to grips with the disadvantages most people associate with hearing aids. What he can’t get his head around is the look & feel of the devices themselves. Quaint design and the conservative color-choices leave Manuel disappointed. “I was missing the slightest notion of style in these devices”, he recalls.

I was missing a notion of style

Manuel Cortez

Manuel isn’t one to slow down. He keeps working as an actor, photographer, and stylist. Hosting the TV show “Schrankalarm” (ed. loosely translates to Closet Alert) together with his wife, the couple visits viewers in their homes, giving them advice on personal style and fashion. Soon, they venture into authorship with a dedicated style-guide in book form. In this process, Manuel realizes that his advice, namely to express yourself through what you wear, doesn’t match the experience he has with his hearing aids. “I thought, practice what you preach! I made the decision to give my hearing the attention and importance it deserves”

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Then Manuel discovers the Signia Styletto Connect hearing aids and is enthusiastic right from the beginning. “I thought: This rocks – I actually like these! I was always very aware of my old hearing aids. They were rather large and I could feel them constantly pushing down on my ears. That was very annoying. Styletto Connect is sleek and light, I hardly even notice it.” Since then Manuel wears his Styletto Connect hearing aids at every chance he gets and with great confidence.

With its lithium-ion battery, Styletto Connect boasts up to 19 hours of constant battery life – without the annoying battery changes usually associated with conventional hearing aids. Manuel is excited about his new hearing aids, especially the charging case. A sleek and compact case that serves as storage when the devices are not in use. But there’s more: The case has enough power for three full battery charges – perfect for an active lifestyle like the one Manuel likes. This allows him to be flexible when his schedule takes him from on-location shoots to photo sessions to an evening event. OVP (Own Voice Processing) with its natural sounding voice perception helps Manuel at his job as an actor on set.

I thought: This rocks – I actually like these!

Manuel Cortez

This is a true statement piece. I don’t mind people noticing my Stylettos. They are really stylish.

Manuel Cortez

And the best part: Styletto Connect hearing aids come with Bluetooth technology. “No matter where my job leads me, Styletto Connect gives me the freedom I need while staying connected to the world around me”, says Manuel.

Sharing his own hearing loss story with others as well as his own positive experience with Styletto Connect encouraged Manuel to become an ambassador for these high-tech hearing aids. His mission is to help other people affected by hearing loss. He feels many go through similar phases when confronted with hearing loss and like Manuel they regard hearing aids as antiquated devices for the elderly. However, modern design in hearing aids makes these misconceptions a thing of the past, says Manuel, while showing us his Styletto Connect hearing aids. “These are a statement. I don’t mind people noticing them. They’re just super stylish”.

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This confidence fits in perfectly with his convictions on personal style, which he expressed in the book he co-authored with his wife “Finde Deinen Style! Und fühle Dich endlich wohl mit dir selbst (ed. Find your style! How to feel good about yourself).

“Style and personal appearance, to me, is about self-expression, about being courageous, loving yourself and not hiding behind clothes. Clothes can help us to show the world who we really are. Why should this be different with hearing aids?” asks Manuel, while he strokes back his thick hair and puts his Styletto Connect in his ears.

“These are a statement. I don’t mind people noticing them. They’re just super stylish”

Manuel Cortez
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