Troy Kotsur dedicated his Oscar to “the deaf community, the Coda community and the disabled community,” adding, “This is our time,” as he made history with his win for best supporting actor.
The actor is the first deaf male actor to win an Oscar, having won the statuette for his role as the father of Coda (son of deaf adults) in the film of the same name.
Kotsur looked overwhelmed as he made his way to the stage accompanied by his performer, who has been a regular fixture throughout his awards season journey, where he has collected a number of gongs.
Speaking about his recent trip to the White House with the rest of the Coda cast, he revealed that he wanted to teach US President Joe Biden “dirty sign language”, a reference to a scene from the movie, but his partner stopped him. Marlee Matlin, who was the first deaf artist to win an Oscar in 1987.
He said, “I was planning on teaching you guys some dirty sign language, but Marlee Matlin told me to behave myself, so don’t worry Marlee, I won’t drop any bombshells in my speech today.”
He also praised the “wonderful theater settings for the deaf, where I had the opportunity to develop my craft as an actor.”
Addressing his director Sian Heder, he said, “You are our bridge and your name will forever be on that Sian Heder bridge in Hollywood.”
Kotsur added, “My dad was the best signer in our family, but he was in a car accident and was paralyzed from the neck down and couldn’t sign anymore.
“Dad, I learned so much from you that I will always love you, you are my hero. Thanks to my biggest fans.
“I just want to say that this is dedicated to the deaf community, the Coda community, and the deaf community.
“This is our moment”.
Earlier in the ceremony, West Side Story star Ariana DeBose won the Oscar for best supporting actress and spoke of her pride in being an “openly queer woman of color.”
The star, 31, picked up her gong dressed in red Valentino pants and a crop top and said her win was proof that “dreams do come true”.
DeBose won the Oscar for her performance as Anita in the classic musical, 60 years after her predecessor in the role, Rita Moreno, won the statuette herself.
DeBose added, “Now you see why Anita says I want to be in America because even in this tired world we live in, dreams do come true and that’s an encouraging thing right now.”
About the production, she added: “It was the summer of my life and I am the most privileged and grateful to have spent it with all of you.”
“OMG, thank you Steven Spielberg, now you’re stuck with me.”
The actress also paid tribute to Moreno, saying she “paved the way for tons of Anitas like me.”
Concluding his speech, DeBose added: “Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus.
“Look into her eyes, you see an openly queer woman of color, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength in life through art.
“And that is what we are here to celebrate.
“So for anyone who has ever questioned their identity or finds themselves living in the gray spaces…I promise you this, there is indeed a place for us.”
Disney giant Charm was named best animated film at the ceremony.
Eight Oscars were presented in a prerecorded segment of the show, which will be edited into the final broadcast.
Dune put together four gongs, for sound, editing, production design, and score for composer Hans Zimmer.
Zimmer celebrated his victory from Amsterdam, where he is on tour.
He shared a photo on Twitter of himself in a bathrobe with his statue and wrote: “It’s 2am in Amsterdam and my daughter @zoezimmer woke me up to go to the hotel bar. Wow!!”
The film also garnered awards for cinematography and visual effects.
The Long Goodbye, starring Riz Ahmed, won Best Live Action Short, while The Windshield Wiper won Best Animated Short and The Queen Of Basketball won Best Documentary Short.
The Eyes Of Tammy Faye won the Oscar for makeup and hair.
Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams opened the Oscars by presenting a performance of Beyonce’s nominated song Be Alive from the film about her father, King Richard, which she performed from a tennis court in Compton.
She was flanked by dancers and an orchestra, all dressed the color of tennis balls.
Hosts Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall kicked off the ceremony with Sykes joking that the ceremony was “where movie lovers come together and watch television” while Schumer added that the Academy had “hired three women as hostesses because it’s cheaper than hiring a man.
She added that she was “representing obnoxious white women who call the police when you get too loud.”
Hall also addressed the choice to move eight categories to a pre-recorded segment, saying it was “a controversial and difficult decision, but I think we’ve moved on,” as the lights flashed onstage.
The Oscars are taking place at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, where Benedict Cumberbatch, Olivia Colman and Sir Kenneth Branagh are among the nominees.