Lip Readers Decode Celebrity Conversations

Nina Dellinger was 16 when she realized she could read lips.

She was zoning out in math class, she said, and it struck her that she could understand what a classmate was saying across the room, even though she couldn’t hear a word.

For years, Ms. Dellinger kept this skill to herself, practicing in secret in social situations, making it a game. That changed in 2020, when she joined TikTok and found that she could rack up followers by interpreting the whispered, caught-on-camera conversations of celebrities and other prominent people.

At the 65th annual Grammy Awards in February, Ben and Jennifer Affleck appeared to be in the middle of a tense but inaudible conversation at their table. Ordinarily, a celebrity couple’s off-mic conversation would remain a mystery to anyone out of earshot, but Ms. Dellinger filled in the blanks.

In a video she posted to TikTok, she said that the former Ms. Lopez appeared to have said, “Prove it.” Then, after a pause, Ms. Affleck repeated the same thing: “Prove it.” Ms. Dellinger’s video has more than 12 million views.

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