CODA's Troy Kotsur becomes the 1st deaf man to win an Oscar for acting

Troy Kotsur
(Image credit: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Troy Kotsur has followed in the footsteps of his co-star Marlee Matlin by making Oscars history.

Kotsur won Best Supporting Actor at Sunday's Academy Awards for CODA, becoming the first deaf man to ever win an Oscar for acting. In fact, Kotsur was the first deaf man to even be nominated for an acting Oscar.

"This is amazing to be here on this journey," Kotsur said in his acceptance speech. "I cannot believe I'm here."

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Kotsur thanked "all the wonderful deaf theater stages where I was allowed and given the opportunity to develop my craft as an actor" and the film's director, Sian Heder, for bringing the "deaf world and the hearing world together." He also dedicated the award to the "deaf community, the CODA community, and the disabled community," adding, "This our moment."

In CODA, Kotsur plays a deaf man whose daughter, a "child of deaf adults," decides to pursue her love of singing. His win came over 30 years after Matlin made history in 1987 by winning Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God, becoming the first deaf person to win an acting Oscar. In CODA, Kotsur and Matlin play husband and wife.

When CODA won the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in February, Matlin said, "We deaf actors have come a long way. ... This validates the fact that we deaf actors can work just like anybody else." It was the first movie consisting of a predominantly deaf cast to win the top SAG Award.

After his nomination in February, Kotsur, 53, reflected to The New York Times that he's dealt with "folks not ready to work with a deaf actor" for years, and "I didn't realize what a big step forward this would be — even bigger than I thought." He added, "It doesn't matter if I win or not: My name has been put down in the history books. By the time I've left this planet, that will remain."

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