Troy Kotsur Makes History As First Deaf Man Nominated For An Acting Oscar

The film “CODA,” which stands for Child of Deaf Adults, presents the life of 17-year-old Ruby Rossi, who is the only hearing person in her family. Troy Kotsur, who plays the role of Ruby’s father, Frank, just received an Oscar nomination for best actor in a supporting role.

The 53-year-old actor, whose work includes roles in “Wild Prairie Rose” and “The Mandalorian,” is the first deaf man to be nominated for an acting award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Oscar nomination is just Kotsur’s more recent recognition. In fall 2021, he won the Gotham Independent Film Award for outstanding supporting performance. He also recently received a nomination for best supporting actor from the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs). The announcement caused him to fall out of his chair in excitement, as seen in this tweet shared by CODA director Sian Heder.

“AHHH! Troy Kotsur’s reaction to his #BAFTA nomination this morning is hilarious,” Heder tweeted. “Thank you to his wife ⁦@DeanneBray for capturing gold. I can’t stop watching.”

“It’s really important to show hearing people what it’s like as a fly on the wall and immerse themselves in deaf culture,” Kotsur told ABC News. “And really, we had the right team, the right story, the right cast and crew and it just hit it at the right moment.”

Although he is the first male performer who is deaf to receive the nomination, he is not the first deaf actor to be nominated — or win. Kotsur’s costar, Marlee Matlin, was the first deaf woman as well as the youngest woman to win an Oscar for best actress. She received the honor in 1987 for “Children of a Lesser God.”

Actors Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

No other deaf actors have won an Oscar since Matlin received the award in 1987.

“CODA,” an AppleTV+ film, has also received nominations for best picture and best adapted screenplay. It is one of the first films with a predominantly deaf cast to receive such recognition.

“It’s such a blessing that Hollywood will begin to recognize deaf talent and increase deaf awareness,” Kotsur told ABC News. “And I hope that it changes their perspective, rather than thinking of deaf people as villains or folks to have sympathy about, it is a culture. It is a language. We have our own language and we have our own culture.”

Kotsur might be thrilled for the deaf community, but he feels “blessed” himself, too.

“It’s really not been easy to get to this point, but I feel extremely honored,” Kotsur added. “And just — it’s been awesome.”

Congrats to the actor on his nomination! The 93rd Academy Awards ceremony takes place at 8 p.m. ET on March 27. You can catch the show on ABC.