Marlee Matlin Applauds Mentor Whoopi Goldberg for 'Breaking Barriers': 'She Set an Example'

"I've had great mentors in my life," CODA star Marlee Matlin told PEOPLE at the Producers Guild of America Awards, crediting Whoopi Goldberg and Henry Winkler as some of her inspirations

Marlee Matlin and Whoopi Goldberg
Photo: Michael Tran/AFP via Getty; Cindy Ord/Getty

Marlee Matlin is recognizing her mentors as she enjoys a fruitful awards season.

The CODA star, 56, credited Whoopi Goldberg for inspiring her as she spoke with PEOPLE at Saturday's 33rd Producers Guild of America Awards. "I've had great mentors in my life," Matlin said through an interpreter.

"She's gone through a great deal of breaking barriers," she added of Goldberg, 66. "And she set an example for me as well. I have good friends and most especially I have family who supports me, who have my back."

Goldberg and Matlin first appeared together in 1992's The Player, a few short years after Matlin won her first Academy Award, taking Best Actress for 1986's Children of a Lesser God. Matlin most recently reunited with Goldberg when she appeared last month on an episode of The View.

Matlin also praised Henry Winkler as another mentor "who told me to not let anyone define me, not let anyone tell me no," adding: "And just like anybody who has a dream or a goal or a desire, I shouldn't let my deafness stop me. And so I never let my deafness define me."

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The actress is currently receiving critical acclaim for her role in awards season favorite CODA, which is nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. She plays Jackie, the matriarch of the Rossi family, all of whom are deaf with the exception of 17-year-old daughter Ruby (Emilia Jones).

The film also won Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures at Saturday's Producers Guild of America Awards.

Matlin expressed her excitement to PEOPLE over being able to experience another awards season, this time with costars and fellow deaf actors Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant along for the ride (Kotsur is up for Best Supporting Actor at this year's Oscars).

RELATED VIDEO: CODA Star Troy Kotsur Reveals Why He Was Nervous To Work With Marlee Matlin

"Today, what I'm excited about is the fact that people are really getting involved. They're expressing their opinions. They're having conversations," Matlin said. "And it's more exciting that I'm not the only one anymore. There are costars now with me who are experiencing this, that never have experienced in their depth. And so it's nice to be with them and to be part of their journey."

CODA is now available to stream on AppleTV+.

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