LOS ANGELES — Troy Kotsur, the first deaf male actor nominated for an Oscar, won best supporting honors for his role in “CODA” at the Academy Awards on Sunday.
Kotsur joins “CODA” costar Marlee Matlin as the only deaf Oscar winners. Matlin remains the youngest best actress winner at age 21 for the 1986 drama “Children of a Lesser God.”
The star-studded audience rose to its feet for Kotsur, a heavy favorite going in after already winning trophies from the British Academy Film Awards, SAG, Critics’ Choice and Independent Spirit. Javier Bardem, Jessica Chastain, Nicole Kidman and others brought up their hands and waved them about — what's known as a deaf clap.
Presenter Youn Yuh-jung, last year's supporting actress winner, signed Kotsur's name before saying it into the mic. She handed the Oscar to Kotsur, then quickly grabbed it back, freeing his hands to make his comments in American Sign Language. An interpreter joined them on stage and choked up while delivering Kotsur's remarks.
“This is amazing to be here on this journey,” Kotsur signed. “I cannot believe I'm here.”
In “CODA,” which stands for child of deaf adult, Kostur plays Frank, whose daughter, Ruby, struggles with being the only member of her family that isn’t deaf and the responsibility she feels for them.
Kotsur's televised speeches at the other shows where he won were a highlight each time, and he didn’t disappoint in his moment of a lifetime.
“I just wanted to say this is dedicated to the Deaf community, the CODA community and the disabled community,” Kotsur signed. “This is our moment.”
The 53-year-old actor from Mesa, Arizona, has toiled in the industry for over 30 years. He had expressed gratitude for the recognition “CODA” brought him after enduring years of financial struggles. Kotsur’s career has received a welcomed boost as a result of the accolades.
Kotsur’s wife, actress Deanne Bray, is deaf. He kissed her before heading to the stage.
Much of Kotsur’s career has been spent on the stage. He’s appeared in productions for the National Theatre of the Deaf and Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles.
His television credits include “The Mandalorian,” “CSI: NY,” “Scrubs” and “Criminal Minds.”
Kotsur won the Oscar over Ciarán Hinds of “Belfast,” Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee of “The Power of the Dog,” and J.K. Simmons of “Being the Ricardos.”