The 28th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards was held a The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California on Sunday i.e., 27th February 2022. At the ceremony one of the significant moment was when the Apple TV+ movie, ‘CODA’ was honored with an outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture award. CODA beat movies including Belfast, Don’t Look Up, House of Gucci, and King Richard to win the award.
CODA’s win is termed as a significant one because it is a movie about a high school student who aspires to be a singer and is the only hearing member of a deaf family. The movie is written and directed by Sian Heder and stars Emilia Jones as the eponymous CODA (child of deaf adults) along with deaf actors Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur as her parents. The movie is an English language remake of 2014’s French movie, ‘La Famille Bélier’. CODA received a positive response from the audience as well as the critics and was named one of the top 10 films of 2021 by the American Film Institute.
While accepting the award, Marlee Matlin went ahead and thanked everyone who worked on the movie with the help of an interpreter and told the audience, "I'm stunned, I'm stunned. We need to thank SAG-AFTRA, you guys, you voted for us. We wanna thank AppleTV+ for trusting us, for believing in us [and] our movie. Thank you for writing the words and including deaf culture, we love you. The interpreters, thank you all the CODA interpreters and all CODAs everywhere, all over the world. My kids, all four of them are CODAs. And look, you are all our peers. We deaf actors have come a long way. [For] 35 years, I have been seeing so much work out there and all this time, I've watched all of your films and I pay the deepest respect to all of you."
Marlee Matlin went ahead to ask if Meryl Streep was present in the crowd and the moment she spotted her she said, "Oh my god, I love you!" She ended her speech by saying, "This validates the fact that we deaf actors can work just like anybody else. We look forward to more opportunities for deaf actors [and] deaf culture. Thank you. We love you. “ The actress taught everyone to say I love you in sign language and received huge applause. The actress also shared backstage after winning the award that she had been waiting for tonight for decades. She said, “It’s a night that I’ve been waiting for for 35 years. It has been time and this just validates, among those people who voted for us at SAG-AFTRA, they knew we are their peers, their equals. We are all actors and this [recognition] had to really give more opportunities for other actors out there, who or whatever they may be.”
Daniel Durant also shared, “It’s been a long way to get here and to make this all happen, and I have to thank Marlee and [writer-director] Sian [Heder] for fighting for getting authentic deaf actors to play real deaf characters and give them our real experiences. I hope this changes opportunities for deaf people so they have more opportunity and things are better.”
Eugenio Derbez shared backstage how CODA has been able to evoke emotions and similarities among the different and underrepresented communities of society. He said that it's now that everyone is talking about inclusion and diversity and CODA serves as the right movie for that. Eugenio added that CODA is a love song for immigrants across the globe but especially in this country because when they come here with their kids, the kids are CODAs and they dedicate their lives to help their parents settle down and understand. He added, “Even if they’re not deaf, they have to translate for their parents, so this is a movie that connects with all the immigrants all around the world.”
Only a win for the cast wasn’t enough for CODA as actor Troy Kotsur won the award for Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role and became the first deaf actor to win a solo Screen Actors Guild Awards. While accepting the award the actor went ahead and said with the help of his interpreter, "I'm so proud to be a member [of SAG]. I've been a member since 2001, and so now I finally feel like I'm part of the family. I know you all are artists, and I know you all know what it's like to be a starving actor. Back then I used to sleep in my car, I slept in my dressing room backstage, I couch-surfed, and all of that. You feel me, right? So thank you so much. I am so thankful to SAG to protect us.” He went ahead and thanked everyone who was a part of the movie and said that he’s grateful for everyone who had faith in their project.
Troy thanked his wife Deanne Bray and said, "She is still here with me today. She's been with me through all these years of struggle. Thank you so much for being my backbone and thank you for supporting me. I love you." Troy shared with The Hollywood Reporter in January after the nominations were announced, "Now that I feel like I've broken in and received these nominations, I'm so glad that they recognized me — not because I'm deaf but because I'm a talented actor. I've already recognized all their work and their talent as artists, but now it's their opportunity to see my skill as an artist. I don't care if I win or not." He added, "Do you see my beard? I have many pieces of hair making up my beard. Can you count them? No, you don't have the time for that. That is like so many of the hearing actors out there with many opportunities. But a deaf actor is just like one small hair."
Troy Kotsur is also nominated for an Academy Award added, "Being nominated and receiving awards, it becomes historical. Many generations can look back and see this as a standout moment with CODA receiving nominations and awards."
Congratulations to the entire cast.