Actor Troy Kotsur has made history as the first deaf man to be nominated for an Oscar for best-supporting actor.
Kotsur’s nomination for his work in Apple TV+’s “CODA,” which is an acronym for Child of Deaf Adults, is the first of its kind in the Academy Award’s 94-year history.
Kotsur received a surprise celebratory welcome home at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport after news of his nomination.
Friends, family and the Arizona deaf community were there at the airport to greet Kotsur, who had no idea they would be there.
“I am completely overwhelmed that the community would come out,” Kotsur, who was born and raised in Mesa, told 3TV/CBS5 through an interpreter.
Kotsur learned he was deaf at an early age and attended Phoenix Day School for the Deaf, according to 3TV/CBS5. He appeared on stage in high school and attended university in Washington, D.C.
“CODA” tells the story of a girl named Ruby who wants to pursue music. Kotsur plays her father. The film is also nominated for best picture and best adapted screenplay.
“HOLY S***,” director Sian Heder tweeted after news of the nominations. “And this is such a dream!”
Marlee Matlin, the first deaf actor to be nominated for an Academy Award, won the Oscar for her work in 1986’s “Children of a Lesser God.”
“So proud of my co-star/friend!” Matlin tweeted after the nominees were announced.
“I think this is really going to energize the community and to inspire them to think, ‘I can do that as well,” said Mike Helms, vice president of Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. “I have a wife who is also deaf, and we have two daughters together,” Helms said using an American Sign Language interpreter. “The oldest daughter is deaf. The youngest is able to hear which makes her a CODA.”
Helms said the film’s success will help bring visibility to the deaf community, a group he says is underrepresented in mainstream media. All the deaf characters in the film were portrayed by deaf actors.
“That allowed a lot of people to see and the producers of the movie to see also that deaf individuals are talented,” Helms said. “I think this is really going to energize the community and to inspire them to think, ‘I can do that as well.'”