'CODA' 's Troy Kotsur Says He's 'So Blessed' to Be an Oscar Nominee: 'It Has Saved My Career'

Troy Kotsur has already taken home a BAFTA Award, SAG Award and Critics Choice Award for his role in CODA

Troy Kotsur feels "so blessed" to land his first Academy Award nomination.

Although he has already taken home a BAFTA Award, SAG Award and Critics Choice Award for his role in CODA, the 53-year-old actor is still beside himself at the Oscar recognition — in part because of some of the financial struggles he faced in the past.

"It's most important for me to really have my family there because I've been through so much as an actor over the last 35 years, and I almost lost my family because of financial reasons and other problems," Kotsur, who's dad to 16-year-old daughter Kyra, tells PEOPLE.

"I didn't have any retirement or savings or a way to support my daughter through college, and so I was worried," he admits. "And I'm so blessed to have been a nominee."

"It really has saved my career, and I'm able to go to the next level," Kotsur adds.

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Troy Kotsur (R) in CODA (2021). Apple TV+

In CODA, Kotsur plays a deaf fisherman who, along with his wife (Marlee Matlin), rely on their hearing daughter Ruby (Emilia Jones) to interpret for them.

One of the "extremely special" moments from the film, for Kotsur, is the "30 seconds of silence," when Ruby is singing in a school function and viewers are able to hear (or rather, not hear) what Kotsur's character Frank and his wife Jackie (Matlin, 56) do.

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

"I was able to say, 'Finally, hearing people are able to feel and see and experience my silent experience,' " he says. "I've had a lifetime of silence, throughout my life."

"So that moment, it really strikes people, and they begin to understand that they take their hearing for granted," Kotsur explains. "And with even 30 seconds of silence, they can start walking in our shoes."

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Troy Kotsur
Troy Kotsur.

And now, Kotsur thinks that the "people out there who are recognizing my work are beautiful people."

"And they have a big heart. And they're able to see talent," he tells PEOPLE. "They're able to look at me not as a deaf person, but as an artist who happens to be deaf."

"So I really appreciate this cultural shift and people willing to change their perspective," he adds.

The 2022 Oscars will be held Sunday, March 27, at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre and televised live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

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