Deaf actor Troy Kotsur makes history with SAG nomination for ‘CODA’


(CNN)As a seemingly gruff, disarmingly loving deaf fisherman, Troy Kotsur nearly runs away with the coming-of-age film “CODA.” And with his latest nomination for his performance — this one from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards — he’s made history.

Kotsur, who Wednesday morning was nominated for best supporting actor at the SAG Awards, became the first deaf actor to score an individual SAG nomination, voted on by fellow actors. He and the rest of the film’s performers, several of whom are deaf, also received a nomination for outstanding cast.

In a statement provided to CNN, Kotsur said the SAG nomination “humbled” him.

    “Hopefully the recognition that this beautiful film is receiving can serve as a reminder of just how funny, complex, and powerful Deaf voices can be, and that stories with actors who happen to be Deaf can be mainstream stories,” Kotsur said in the statement.

      “CODA,” whose title means “child of deaf adults,” was a hit out of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and is considered a major awards contender. It debuted on Apple TV+ last summer and has won wide acclaim from critics — and deaf viewers — for its portrayal of deaf characters by deaf actors. Director Siân Heder, who is hearing, told CNN in 2021 that she involved deaf collaborators at every step of production to make sure the film was as authentic and responsible as possible.

          Kotsur plays Frank Rossi, father of teenage protagonist Ruby (Emilia Jones). Frank is deaf, and so are his wife, Jackie, (Oscar winner Marlee Matlin) and their son (Daniel Durant) — Ruby is the only hearing member of their family. Though the film depicts Frank’s challenges to communicate with the other members of his small-town Massachusetts fishing community, he’s never played as a victim or pitiable character — rather, he’s a self-sufficient laborer who relies on his hearing daughter far less than she thinks.

          The SAG nod is the latest of several nominations — and some wins — for Kotsur. Late last year, he won a Gotham Award for his performance. He’s also up for a Critics Choice Award and a Film Independent Spirit Award.