'CODA' Actor Troy Kotsur Makes History as First Deaf Male Oscar Nominee: I'm 'Extremely Thrilled'

Troy Kotsur earned an Oscar nomination on Tuesday for his moving performance in Apple TV+’s CODA

Troy Kotsur
Troy Kotsur. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Troy Kotsur's unforgettable performance in Apple TV+'s CODA earned the actor a historic Academy Award nomination that he sees as a "blessing."

The actor, 53, stars as Frank Rossi, a deaf man and fisherman by trade who relies on his hearing daughter, Ruby, to interpret for him in his business. When Ruby decides she wants to pursue music at college, Frank and the rest of their family are faced with the dilemma of losing their connection to the hearing world.

Kotsur is the first deaf male Oscar nominee after he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor on Tuesday. In an interview with Deadline, he said he was "extremely thrilled" by his nomination, as well as the Oscar nods the film earned for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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"I feel like it's wonderful to be able to share this experience with the deaf community and with the hearing community," Kotsur said via an ASL interpreter. "It's so exciting and such a blessing."

The importance of CODA's recognition by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as well as audiences hasn't escaped Kotsur.

"I just felt so touched that so many deaf people all over the community are so excited and they're all celebrating. It's so important for the group of people in our ensemble who just happen to also be deaf," he said. "It tends to just be one deaf role in a film, like many of Marlee's roles in the past, and so I hope that Hollywood is beginning to be more open-minded and gives more diverse artists an opportunity to tell their stories. The awareness of ASL and deaf culture is such a positive."

Kotsur added he could "feel the positivity out there" when it came to including the deaf community in Hollywood features, citing A Quiet Place and Marvel's Eternals.

Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin. Apple TV+

"It's exciting to see because everyone has their stories to tell," he said. "We have such a rich storytelling tradition in the deaf community and I hope that folks are motivated to be creative together. It doesn't matter if we're deaf or hearing; we're just people."

Marlee Matlin, who costars in the movie with Kotsur, was the first deaf actor to score an Oscar nomination and win the statue for her performance in 1986's Children of a Lesser God.

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Before Kotsur, Matlin continued to be the only deaf actor to have been recognized by the Academy.

With his nomination cinched, and awaiting the awards ceremony next month, Kotsur is already looking toward his next film project in Flash Before the Bang.

The movie tells the story of the all-deaf track team at the Oregon School for the Deaf, which won the state championship in 1986 against hearing schools.

RELATED VIDEO: CODA Actor Troy Kotsur Reacts to SAG Awards Nomination

Kotsur told Deadline the movie is being produced and directed by deaf talent, as well as a combined deaf and hearing crew.

"It's a new challenge and I'm really looking forward to it," he told the outlet. "As an actor…I don't want to feel that I'm limiting myself. I want to be able to wear different hats and have different responsibilities."

He added, "I would love to be a director, a teacher, an actor, and it's really important to do what I can and have options, depending on what's available out there, rather than limiting myself."

CODA is now streaming on Apple TV+.

The 94th annual Academy Awards will be held at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 27.

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