Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Deaf actor Troy Kotsur gets historic Oscar win

Deaf actor Troy Kotsur gets historic Oscar win

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
(L-R) US actress Ariana DeBose, winner for West Side Story, US actor Troy Kotsur, winner for Coda, and US actress Jessica Chastain. AFP

Deaf actor Troy Kotsur gets historic Oscar win

Troy Kotsur made history Sunday as the first deaf male actor to earn an Oscar, winning over voters with a funny, assured and authentic turn as the father of a loving family in the heartfelt indie drama “CODA.”

Deaf since birth, the 53-year-old has been an established stage actor for decades, with a lead role on Broadway on his resume, and was previously best known on the big screen for a supporting role in Jim Carrey thriller “The Number 23.”

But his performance in “CODA” alongside Marlee Matlin – the only other deaf actor to win an Oscar, in 1987 for “Children of a Lesser God” – has catapulted him to a historic Academy Award win.

“This is dedicated to the deaf community, the CODA community and the disabled community. This is our moment,” Kotsur said as he accepted his award.

Kotsur beat rival nominees Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee (both “The Power of the Dog”), Ciaran Hinds (“Belfast”) and J.K. Simmons (“Being the Ricardos”).

In “CODA” – an acronym for child of deaf adult – Kotsur plays Frank Rossi, whose family fishing business is struggling under the weight of bureaucracy and the changing climate.

The family faces the added challenge of being deaf in a tough blue-collar world, where authorities are unwilling to make allowances for their lack of hearing.

They rely on hearing daughter Ruby (played by breakout young actress Emilia Jones), who struggles to balance the demands of translating for the family with her own ambitions to sing.

“CODA” also triumphed on Sunday for best picture and best adapted screenplay.

‘Finally part of the family’

The film became an instant phenomenon following the Sundance film festival in January 2021, where its premiere sparked a frenzied bidding war eventually won by Apple TV+ for a record $25 million.

The relative newcomer to the streaming wars released the film worldwide last summer, and Kotsur – a regular performer at Los Angeles’ Deaf West Theater known to television viewers for turns in “The Mandalorian” and “CSI: NY” – has collected multiple accolades since.

His Oscar charge began in earnest last month when he won best supporting actor honors from the Screen Actors Guild.

“Now I feel like I’m finally part of the family,” he told the Hollywood-based actors union.

“I know what 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?”

Kotsur also thanked Apple for “believing in us deaf actors and casting us authentically as actors who happen to be deaf,” before the film went on to win the night’s top prize for best cast.

He followed that honor up with a Bafta and a Spirit award.

Kotsur – who is married and has a daughter, Kyra – went one better on Sunday, winning the Oscar from an industry that has been slow to listen to the deaf community.


  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Ice cream, noodles flagged over carcinogen

    The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) has identified three types of instant noodles and ice cream trademarks originating from Thailand, Vietnam and France that are suspected to contain ethylene oxide, which poses a cancer risk to consumers. The general department has

  • Exclusive interview with Josep Borrell Fontelles, High Representative of the EU

    CAMBODIA is hosting the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and Related Meetings this week with top officials from the US, China, and Russia and other countries in the region slated to attend and to meet with face-to-face with their counterparts on the sidelines. In

  • Rise in Thai air routes to Siem Reap fuels travel hopes

    Local tourism industry players are eager for regional airline Bangkok Airways Pcl’s resumption of direct flight services between the Thai capital and Siem Reap town on August 1 – home of Cambodia’s awe-inspiring Angkor Archaeological Park – which is expected to boost the growth rate of

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’