CHICAGO (CBS) – Amidst the chaos at the Oscars, CODA won three Oscars, including Best Picture.
Troy Kotsur became only the second deaf man to win an Oscar. He won Best Supporting Actor for his role in the film. Marisa Perlman of CBS 2 talks about what these victories mean for deaf people here at home.
“CODA” brings a rare moment of visibility to the world’s deaf entertainment, and it’s what many call decades overdue.
“It’s dedicated to the community of the deaf, the CODA community, it’s our moment,” Kotsur said.
A historic night at the Oscars for the team behind CODA. It stands for “Child of Deaf Adults” and tells the story of Ruby, the only hearing member in his family who balances his love of music and desire to support his loved ones.
“I can’t stay with you for the rest of my life,” Ruby said.
You will see on the screen how Ruby shares the phrase in American sign language “I love you”. Universal sign, which is also in Karen Aguilar’s office at Chicago Hearing Society.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen a film like this,” Aguilar said.
She said that the victory of “CODA” is also the victory of her team, seeing the representation of the deaf community in Hollywood.
This is one of the first times we see deaf actors playing deaf characters, and for that they are recognized.
“I hope this is just the first film out of many that portrays deaf families’ roles and the culture of the deaf.”
The story also resonates with Katie Wallis, the translator and CODA herself.
“Last night I watched the awards and felt noticed.”
The youngest of eight, she grew up with two deaf parents and often had to navigate two worlds.
“The film is not like my life at all, but it is 100% similar to my life,” Valiska said.
But the part of her life that she does not hear, she calls a blessing.
“I had access to my parents’ experiences,” Valiska said.
Michelle Cunningham, a hearing advocate, said the film reflects some of her experiences as a deaf woman in Chicago.
“It shows the world … they’re just like you,” Cunningham said.
She hopes the film will shed light on the culture of the deaf and the access needed to develop this community.
“The listening community needs to understand that deaf people can do anything but hear.”
Cunningham went on to say that in the film this family relies heavily on their hearing child, and in fact most deaf parents are independent and do not require such support.
The cast of the film called for a Hollywood evening on Sunday to be more inclusive and just hire more deaf actors.