Film and TV

Mesa's Troy Kotsur Just Became the First Deaf Man to Win an Acting Oscar

Troy Kotsur (seen with Marlee Matlin) plays a deaf fisherman trying to take care of his family in CODA.
Troy Kotsur (seen with Marlee Matlin) plays a deaf fisherman trying to take care of his family in CODA. Apple TV+

Last night's 94th annual Academy Awards will undoubtedly be most remembered for the Slap Heard Round the World, but the event also brought with it a big milestone.

Troy Kotsur became the first deaf man to be nominated for and win an Oscar, and he's from right here in Mesa.

Kotsur won Best Supporting Actor for his work in CODA, an Apple TV+ movie that made history when it won Best Picture last night (it's the first movie released by a streaming service to do so).

In his emotional acceptance speech, which was communicated through an interpreter, Kotsur dedicated his win to his father.

"My dad, he was the best signer in our family, but he was in a car accident and he became paralyzed from the neck down and he no longer was able to sign. Dad, I learned so much from you. I’ll always love you. You are my hero,” Kotsur said.

He also thanked his "hometown of Mesa, Arizona," in his speech. He still resides here with his wife and daughter.

In CODA, Kotsur stars as a Gloucester, Massachusetts, deaf fisherman trying to make ends meet. The film is focused on the journey of his daughter, the only hearing member of her family, as she tries to balance familial commitments and pursuing her dreams of being a singer. In addition to Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture, CODA director Sian Heder won Best Adapted Screenplay (CODA is a remake of the 2014 French film La Famille Bélier).

The Oscar is just the latest win for Kotsur; in this awards season, he also won a British Academy Film Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Independent Spirit Award, and a Critics' Choice Movie Award.

Kotsur's next film will be Flash Before the Bang, the story of a track and field team at the Oregon School for the Deaf.
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Jennifer Goldberg is the culture editor and Best of Phoenix editor for Phoenix New Times.