CODA‘s Troy Kotsur made history at Sunday’s SAG Awards, becoming the first deaf actor in the history of the award show to claim an individual prize. He prevailed in the category of Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, besting the likes of Ben Affleck (Amazon Studios’ The Tender Bar), Bradley Cooper (MGM/UAR’s Licorice Pizza), Jared Leto (MGM/UAR’s House of Gucci) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Netflix’s The Power of the Dog).
“Wow. Thank you so much to all the members of SAG. I am so proud to be a member. I’ve been a member since 2001, and so now I feel like I’m finally part of the family,” Kotsur said via an ASL interpreter in his acceptance speech. “I know you all are artists, and I know you all know what it’s like to be a starving actor. Back then, I used to sleep in my car. I slept in my dressing room backstage, I couch-surfed and all of that, you feel me, right? So, thank you so much. I’m so grateful to SAG [for protecting] us actors.”
Kotsur elaborated backstage on how “overwhelmed” and “excited” he was by tonight’s recognition. “I didn’t realize how heavy this [statuette] is,” he said. “It’s my first time holding something like this, and I think I’m going to sleep with it in bed tonight.” He added that his father had always referred to him as a “risk-taker” and that the award demonstrated just how correct he was in taking the risks he has in his career. “I’m so proud, and it just shows that dreams can come true,” he said. “You never know when, just to throw that out there. But [this shows the importance of] trusting your gut.”
CODA is also up tonight for Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Kotsur’s win solidifies his prospects of becoming just the second deaf actor ever to take home an Oscar, in the Supporting Actor category, on the heels of his CODA co-star Marlee Matlin’s win back in 1987 for Children of a Lesser God.
CODA is a comedic drama based on the French film La Famille Bélier, which tells the story of Ruby (Jones), a CODA (or “child of deaf adult”) who serves as an interpreter for the members of her Boston family, including her mother Jackie (Matlin), her father Frank (Kotsur) and her brother Leo (Daniel Durant). At a pivotal moment in her life, the character finds herself torn between the role she plays, in connecting her loved ones to the outside world—above all, with regard to their fishing business—and her pursuit of an education in music.
The film from writer-director Sian Heder garnered critical acclaim upon its premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, winning its Grand Jury Prize, as well as its Audience Award, Directing Award and U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble. Apple acquired it out of the festival for a record-setting $25 million, releasing it in theaters and on Apple TV+ on August 13. Over the course of the 2021-2022 awards season, the film has also been recognized with noms at the BAFTA Awards, the Critics Choice Awards, the Artios Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards, the PGA Awards and the WGA Awards.
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