Troy Kotsur made history as the first deaf man to win acting Oscar

Troy Kotsur, first deaf man to win Oscar for acting
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Although certain events might have stolen the spotlight during the 2022 Oscars, there were more than a few groundbreaking moments at this year’s ceremony. To name an important one: “CODA” star Troy Kotsur took home the gold statuette for Best Supporting Actor and made history as the first deaf man to win the award.

Kotsur’s “CODA” co-star, Marlee Matlin, was the first deaf person to win an Oscar back in 1987, when she took home the Best Actress award for her performance in “Children of a Lesser God.”

Kotsur signed a moving acceptance speech in which he acknowledged the beloved people and places that have inspired him over the years. He mentioned the deaf theater stages where he was given the opportunity to grow and develop as an actor. And he expressed his deep love for his hero: his dad.

“My dad, he was the best signer in our family,” Kotsur signed. “But he was in a car accident, and he was paralyzed from the neck down and he was no longer able to sign. Dad, I learned so much from you. I’ll always love you. You are my hero.”

Kotsur continued to tug at the heartstrings by dedicating his groundbreaking win “to the Deaf community, the ‘CODA’ community and the disabled community. This is our moment.”

AP | Richard Shotwell

After accepting his award, Kotsur went backstage and expressed how satisfying it was to share with the world “the rich diversity of our sign language” — including the vulgarities.

“Welcome to my world,” he signed during his time with reporters backstage, according to Rolling Stone. “We’ve been so patient with all of you, and can you be patient with us deaf people? Can you learn the rich diversity of our sign language, which includes our vulgarities? … Sign language is so rich. Everything I’ve been through in my life. You know, we communicate visually as deaf people. It’s as simple as that.”

The movie’s title, “CODA,” is the acronym for “child of deaf parents,” and the movie focuses on the experience of Ruby (Emilia Jones), a New England teenager who often acts as the link between her deaf parents (played by Kotsur and Matlin) and the hearing world. Ruby’s brother, Leo, is also deaf, and that role was played by deaf actor Daniel Durant.

Apple TV+

Along with earning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, “CODA” also won Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Prior to the Oscars, the filmmakers and cast collected a slew of other awards around the world. The performers and filmmakers have been honored by the SAG Awards, BAFTA, Hollywood Critics Association Film Awards, PGA Awards, Film Independent Spirit Awards, Critics Choice Awards, an AFI Award, an NAACP Image Award and more.

“CODA” also won four awards at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered, including the Grand Jury Prize, which means that “CODA” was the first top Sundance winner to achieve an Oscar for Best Picture. Clearly, this film has struck a chord with audiences — and critics — everywhere.

“CODA” is one of the Oscar-nominated movies you can watch at home, as long as you have access to Apple TV+.

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