Troy Kotsur Is Overcome with Emotion as He Makes History as First Deaf Male Actor to Win a SAG Award

CODA actor Troy Kotsur thanked his wife for being his "backbone" supporting him "through all these years of struggle"

Troy Kotsur has made history!

The CODA actor, 53, was named outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role at the 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night. The victory makes him the first deaf male actor to win a solo SAG Award.

"I'm so proud to be a member [of SAG]. I've been a member since 2001, and so now I finally feel like I'm part of the family," he signed in ASL on stage as his interpreter translated his words off camera.

"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?" he continued. "So thank you so much."

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Kotsur also thanked his wife Deanne Bray, saying, "She is still here with me today. She's been with me through all these years of struggle. Thank you so much for being my backbone and thank you for supporting me. I love you."

sag award winners

After quipping that his award would not be a place for daughter Kyra to put her earrings, he added one more joked for Bray: "Thank you to my wife for reminding me to check my fly before walking on the red carpet."

The other nominees in the category were Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar), Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza), Jared Leto (House of Gucci) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog).

Kotsur became the first solo deaf actor to receive an individual SAG Award nomination this year. He told The Hollywood Reporter in January, "Now that I feel like I've broken in and received these nominations, I'm so glad that they recognized me — not because I'm deaf but because I'm a talented actor. I've already recognized all their work and their talent as artists, but now it's their opportunity to see my skill as an artist. I don't care if I win or not."

28th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards – Arrivals
Frazer Harrison/Getty

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The actor likened his nomination to his beard, telling the publication, "Do you see my beard? I have many pieces of hair making up my beard. Can you count them? No, you don't have the time for that. That is like so many of the hearing actors out there with many opportunities. But a deaf actor is just like one small hair."

Kotsur, who also scored a history-making Oscar nomination this year, stars alongside Marlee Matlin in the film. Matlin was the first deaf actress to win an Academy Award for her performance in 1986's Children of a Lesser God and remains the only deaf actor to have ever won an Oscar.

"Being nominated and receiving awards, it becomes historical," added Kotsur. "Many generations can look back and see this as a standout moment with CODA receiving nominations and awards."

The 28th Annual SAG Awards are being broadcast live on TNT and TBS.

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