CLEVELAND (WJW) – Troy Kotsur made history with his win at the 94th Academy Awards Sunday night, becoming the first deaf man to win an academy award for supporting actor, for his performance in the movie “Coda.”
During his acceptance speech, Kotsur said, “I want to thank all the wonderful deaf theater stages where I was allowed and given the opportunity to develop my craft as an actor.”
Those same opportunities are being offered to aspiring deaf actors here at home.
Timothy Skaggs is the director of the Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Cleveland.
“I was so proud of Troy and that award was such an inspiration and it was such a lovely recognition for the deaf community and all their hard work,” Skaggs said.
Speaking through an interpreter, Skaggs says using theatre, mime and improvisational techniques, the center’s SignStage program educates audiences about real world conflicts.
“To teach young kids to become successful in the future, Skaggs says, we have all kinds of stuff. That just touches the surface.”
SignStage has been bringing deaf and hearing actors together for unique performances for years.
A production of the ‘Ugly Duckling,’ took center stage in 2017.
SignStage also works directly with deaf and disadvantaged students in public schools, motivating and improving literacy, social skills and personal self-esteem.
“They are a really good role models for children to look up to in Signstage. It inspires many people to just become better people.”
Kotsur ended his Oscar speech with a powerful message to the deaf community saying quote, “This is our moment.”
Skaggs couldn’t agree more.
“I don’t think it’s only going to impact the arts and performing. I really think all deaf and the hard of hearing community will see this as a role model and it’s so important,” he said.