Though Hollywood’s Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are often critiqued for their lack of representation, there has been progress in the most recent edition. This past weekend, we saw a beautiful example of inclusion during the 94th Academy Awards, as Troy Kotsur became the first deaf man in the history of the Oscars to win an award for acting. The movie in which he acted, “CODA” also took home the top award for best picture.
Kotsur’s heart-wrenching supporting performance portraying a deaf fisherman trying to connect with his hearing daughter touched the voters, leading to his impressive win.
The movie’s title is an acronym for “children of deaf adults” (CODA), a unique population who being fluent in both sign language and spoken languages can serve as a bridge between the deaf and hearing communities and cultures.
Kotsur dedicated the award to the deaf community, the CODA community, and the disabled community, declaring “this is our moment.”
In his acceptance speech delivered in American Sign Language, he also honored his father, saying: “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.”
The only other deaf person to win an actor was Kotsur’s “CODA” co-star Marlee Matlin, who was awarded the best actress statuette almost 30 years ago for “Children of a Lesser God.”
In addition to Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor, CODA also won the award for best adapted screenplay.