Getting To Know The Cast Of CODA: The Deaf Actors Who Created History At The SAG Awards

CODA chronicles the story of a small-town girl who pursues her dream of becoming a singer. The film is directed by Sian Heder.

CODA or Child of Deaf Adult, is a term you must be hearing a lot right now. CODA is used to refer to a hearing person who has a deaf parent(s) or a deaf guardian(s). A movie was made with that the premise and it received huge appreciation for its realistic take on the subject and for the story.


Directed by Sian Heder, CODA is creating history and achieving milestones at every step. After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, the film got acquired by Apple TV+ for $25 million. It won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, and is now on its way to the 2022 Oscars.  

The film follows the story of the Rossis who run a fishing business. Their daughter — high school student and the only hearing person in the family — harbours a dream of becoming a singer. She is supported by her parents who are deaf. Deaf actors Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur essay the roles of the parents, while Emilia Jones plays the daughter and Daniel Durant plays their son. Kotsur made history at the SAG Award by becoming the first deaf male actor to win an individual SAG Award. Back in 1987, Matlin became the first deaf actress to win an Oscar for her performance in the film Children of a Lesser God.

The actress, who plays Jackie Rossi in CODA, gave a moving speech while accepting the award. She said, “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.”

“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,” before teaching the audience how to say “I love you” in sign language. She essays the role of the mother in the film. 

Troy Kotsur plays Frank Rossi. He is a doting husband to Jackie and a loving father to his kids. He has worked with the National Theater of the Deaf for a long time. He choreographed his own sign language for a stint on The Mandalorian.

Emilia Jones essays the role of Ruby, the high school-going CODA, who shocks her deaf parents by pursuing a singing scholarship. The British actress is 19 years old and has worked on projects like Lock & Key, Eutopia and Doctor Who. She spent nine months learning American Sign Language, having singing lessons, and learning how to operate a fishing trawler.

Daniel Durant plays Leo Rossi. The actor who starred with Matlin in ABC Family’s Switched at Birth, portrays his role as Ruby’s older brother perfectly. Eugenio Derbez also stars as Ruby’s teacher, Bernardo, and needs no introduction. The actor is one of the most influential Hispanic actors in the world, and is known for films like Dr. Dolittle, 102 Dalmatians, Shrek, The Secret Life of Pets 2, and The Grinch. 

Director Sian Heder comes with an impressive filmography too. She wrote the script for seasons 1-3 of the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black, and directed the film Tallulah before working on CODA.

CODA, the remake of the 2014 French film La Famille Bélier, is nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2022 Academy Awards.

(Featured Image Credits: Instagram)

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