Actor Troy Kotsur has finally done it. He is now the first Deaf male actor and the second Deaf actor to win an Academy Award for his role in “CODA.” Actress and “CODA” costar Marlee Matlin was the first when she picked up her Oscar win in 1987 for “Children of a Lesser God.”
The historic win is a crowning achievement for Kotsur, who has picked up a BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, and Critics Choice Award earlier in the award season. His portrayal of Frank Rossi, a Deaf fisherman with a hearing daughter, competed for his Oscar against Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”), Jesse Plemons (“The Power of the Dog”), J.K. Simmons (“Being the Ricardos”), and Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”).
“CODA” was also nominated for – and won – adapted screenplay and the headline prize of the night, Best Picture.
Troy Kotsur Says It’s ‘A Tough Journey As A Deaf Actor’
On the day the Oscar nominations were announced back in February, Kotsur had told the Los Angeles Times that “when I received the nominee information, I knew that I wasn’t alone, because Marlee had inspired me.”
“It’s a tough journey as a Deaf actor,” he continued through an interpreter. “There’s so few opportunities out there, and she kept on going. She was persistent. And then so was I with my own career as a stage actor. So here I am today.”
In another interview with The Times, Kotsur said he was “tired of Deaf people being portrayed as a victim.”
“This time, in this project, I just want to show some b—, some real Deaf b—, that hey, this character’s a tough guy, a Deaf male who struggles just like anyone else out there who owns a small business,” he added. “The only thing that’s different is the method of communication.”
Troy Kotsur’s Full Oscar Acceptance Speech
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A transcription of Troy Kotsur’s acceptance speech, which was given to his interpreter prior to the ceremony, was obtained by the Los Angeles Times and transcribed below.
“This is amazing to be here on this journey. I cannot believe I’m here. Thank you so much to all the members of the academy for recognizing my work.”
“It’s really amazing that our film ‘CODA’ has reached out worldwide. It even reached all the way to the White House. And they invited the cast of ‘CODA’ to visit and have a tour of the White House. We met our president, Joe, and Dr. Jill [Biden], and I was planning on teaching them some dirty sign language, but Marlee Matlin told me to behave myself. So don’t worry, Marlee, I won’t drop any F-bombs in my speech today.”
“Instead, I really want to thank all of the wonderful Deaf theater stages where I was allowed and given the opportunity to develop my craft as an actor. Thank you.”
Troy Kotsur: ‘Don’t Forget To Eat Your Spinach’
“I read one of Spielberg’s books recently, and he said that the best director, the definition of the best director was a skilled communicator. Sian Heder, you are the best communicator. And the reason why is you brought the Deaf world and the hearing world together, and you are our bridge, and your name will forever be on that bridge. Sian Heder Bridge here in Hollywood, and that was supported by Apple, Sundance, all of our cast or crew, our producers and the community of Gloucester, Massachusetts. So I just want to say, hey, fisherman, hey, Popeyes, don’t forget to eat your spinach.”
“My dad, he was the best signer in our family. But he was in a car accident, and he became paralyzed from the neck down. And he no longer was able to sign. Dad, I learned so much from you. I’ll always love you. You are my hero.”
“Thank you to my biggest fans, my wife and my daughter Kyra in my hometown of Mesa, Arizona. And Mark Finley, my manager, and our team. I just wanted to say that this is dedicated to the Deaf community, the ‘CODA’ community and the disabled community. This is our moment. To my mom, my dad and my brother Mark. They’re not here today, but look at me now. I did it. I love you. Thank you!”