Troy Kotsur has won the Oscar for best supporting actor at the 94th Academy Awards, currently under way at the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles.
Kotsur won the prize for his role as fisherman Frank Rossi in Coda, the deaf father of Emilia Jones’ Ruby – the “child of deaf adults” as alluded to in the title – and becomes only the second deaf actor to win an Oscar, after Marlee Matlin’s best actress award for Children of a Lesser God in 1987. Coda is a remake of 2014 French film La Famille Bélier and is written and directed by Sian Heder. Alongside Jones and Kotsur, it also features Matlin as Frank’s wife, Jackie.
“This is amazing to be here on this journey,” he said to a standing ovation applauding in American Sign Language (ASL). “I cannot believe I’m here.”
Kotsur has already won a string of awards for his role in the film, including best supporting actor at the Baftas, Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors Guild awards.
The Mesa, Arizona, native also shouted out the global reach of the film, which led to an invitation from the Biden White House. “I was planning on teaching some dirty sign language but Marlee Matlin told me to behave myself,” he joked.
He also thanked the “wonderful” deaf theatre stages “where I was allowed and given the opportunity to develop my craft as an actor” and paid a special tribute to his father. “My dad, he was the best signer in our family,” he said. “But he was in a car accident and he became 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 ultimately dedicated the award to “the deaf community, the Coda community, the disabled community. This is our moment.”