Troy Kotsur Makes SAG History With 'CODA' Win

Troy Kotsur Makes SAG History With 'CODA' Win

by Hedy Phillips

At Sunday night’s Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, Troy Kotsur took home the trophy for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role for CODA, becomingthe first deaf male actor to win a solo SAG award in the history of the award show.

While accepting his award, Kotsur thanked his wife, Deanne Bray, for being his “backbone” through his whole life and career. "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. "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? So thank you so much."

The Apple TV+ movie was already breaking boundaries when it earned major nominations this award season. CODA — which stands for children of deaf adults — stars a largely deaf cast and tells the story of what it’s like for a hearing child (played by Emilia Jones) to want to break free from her parents (played by Kotsur and Marlee Matlin). The team also won the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture for their work in the movie.

An award like this has been a long time coming for Kotsur, who has been acting for decades. He’s spent years both on stage and on the screen, though it’s never been an easy road. In January, he spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the award nominations he’d received so far — including the SAG — saying, "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."

Kotsur’s been nominated for a slew of awards for this movie and has already won a few, alongside his castmates. He also earned a history-making Oscar nomination for the role, and the movie is up for best picture overall. He’s the first deaf man to be nominated for an Oscar, and only the second actor to earn a nomination. The first was Matlin, who won the Oscar in 1987 for her role in Children of a Lesser God.

And while Kotsur has been so grateful for the acclaim he’s earned since CODA was released, he mostly just hopes that he’ll have an influence on young deaf kids who want to be stars someday too. “I hope that young people who happen to be deaf or hard of hearing can get an increased confidence and be inspired that they can pursue their dreams,” Kotsur told the Houston Chronicle. “I want those kids to not feel limited.”

CODA is currently streaming on Apple TV+.