Troy Kotsur made history as the first deaf person to win an individual Screen Actors Guild Award on Sunday. The 53-year-old won in the best supporting actor category for his role in the 2021 Apple TV+ film “CODA.”
During his acceptance speech, which he delivered using sign language, Kotsur thanked SAG members and explained that he's been a proud member of the group since 2001.
“Now I feel like I’m finally part of the family,” he said, referencing his win.
The actor expressed his gratitude to Apple TV+ for its support and for offering closed captioning, American Sign Language interpreting services, and "believing in us deaf actors and casting us authentically as actors who happen to be deaf."
Kotsur talked about his journey to become an actor and also thanked his wife for her support.
"She's been with me through all these years of struggle. Thank you so much for being my backbone," he said.
The actor's co-star, Marlee Matlin, also delivered an inspiring speech after the film won the award for best film ensemble on Sunday night, and made sure to thank Sian Heder, the film's director and screenwriter.
“Thank you for writing the words, including deaf culture. We love you," she signed.
The 56-year-old also emphasized how important this win is for deaf culture.
"This validates the fact that we deaf actors can work just like anybody else. We look forward to more opportunities for deaf actors," she said.
Earlier this month, Kotsur made history when he became the second deaf performer to receive an Oscar nomination. Matlin was the first in 1987 and went on to win the award for best actress for her role in "Children of a Lesser God."