It’s simple to comprehend love in any language, and Troy Kotsur’s Oscar-nominated CODA performance has won the hearts of everyone.
The 53-year-old actor’s path to the Academy Awards started in Mesa, Arizona. Kotsur, the first deaf male actor who has been nominated for an Academy Award, was born deaf within a hearing household and communicated with his parents through American Sign Language.
As he said in a recent edition of Awards Chatter, his father had a significant role in his boyhood, taking him water skiing, golfing, and camping, as well as coaching his sports teams. However, when Kotsur was seventeen years old, his father was struck by a drunk driver which paralyzed him from the neck down. On a podcast, Kotsur said that “My father was unable to sign or communicate with me any longer. It was a complete communication breakdown and everything for our family changed in that moment.”
Seeing what his father endured changed Kotsur’s outlook. “I could still play golf, I could still go water skiing, I could go camping. You know, it didn’t matter whether I was deaf or not,” he continued. “So looking at my father, it really taught me such an important lesson. My father was my hero. My father gave me strength in show business. I didn’t care if Hollywood was ready for me or not. I had to remain persistent and do what I loved.”
Kotsur began his career at Los Angeles’ Deaf West Theater, where he hosted seminars and performed in theater plays. Indeed, it was there that he collaborated with Paul Raci from the Sound of Metal, a 2021 Academy Award frontrunner for whom Kotsur also auditioned, and performed in concerts attended by Marlee Matlin, who is the first female deaf actress to grab an Academy Award and Kotsur’s future CODA costar.
Kotsur also directed, pioneering the film No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie in 2013, which starred Matlin and appeared in a number of films and television shows, including CSI: New York, The Number 23, and Scrubs.
Nonetheless, life in Hollywood was not simple, and Kotsur contemplated retiring. “I was starting to feel like giving up,” Kotsur said on Awards Chatter. “And so I auditioned for CODA, and I told myself, ‘This is my last chance. This is my last hope.’ And I gave it my best shot.”
As they say, the rest is history. Not only Kotsur got the role, but the movie CODA has been nominated for Academy Awards for “Best Adapted Screenplay” and “Best Picture”, and Kotsur is nominated for “Best Actor in a Supporting Role”. If he wins, he will add the mighty gold statue to his multitude of awards.