Troy Michael Kotsur is a deaf American actor best known for his supporting role in the 2021 film CODA, for which he earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and won the Gotham Award for Outstanding Supporting Performance and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.
Kotsur also directed the feature film No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie (2013).
Early life and education
Kotsur was born in Mesa, Arizona on July 24, 1968 to Jodee and Leonard Stephen "Len" Kotsur, who was Mesa's police chief. When Kotsur was nine months old, his parents discovered that he was deaf, and they learned American Sign Language so the family could communicate. The parents encouraged Kotsur to play sports and to make friends with hearing children in their neighborhood. Kotsur attended the Phoenix Day School for the Deaf, where he first became interested in acting. He graduated from Westwood High School. In high school, his drama teacher encouraged him to participate in the senior variety show, and he performed a pantomime skit that was positively received and motivated him to pursue theater.
After Kotsur graduated from high school, he interned at KTSP-TV (now KSAZ-TV). While he had aspired to direct films, at the internship he assisted an editor and did not feel connected with people, recalling, "My directing dream poofed after I accepted the fact that I lived in a world that did not use my language." He then attended Gallaudet University from 1987 to 1989 and studied theater, television, and film.
When Kotsur received an acting job offer from the National Theatre of the Deaf, he accepted it and left Gallaudet to tour with NTD for two years, performing in two plays. In 1994, he started working for the Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, California, acting in and directing several productions. On stage, his roles included Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire, Lenny in Of Mice and Men, and Prince Hamlet in Ophelia.
In 2001, Kotsur and hearing actor Lyle Kanouse were cast together in a Deaf West Theatre production of the 1985 musical Big River. Kotsur and Kanouse both played Huckleberry Fin's father Pap, with Kotsur signing and Kanouse speaking and singing. Big River's success led to the play being performed at the Mark Taper Forum, then to a Broadway revival under Roundabout Theater Company and Deaf West at the American Airlines Theater in New York City. He also had a recurring role on Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye, also working as an ASL specialist for the show. Since then he has had television and film roles.
In 2012, Kotsur starred in the play Cyrano, based on Cyrano de Bergerac and a co-production of Deaf West Theatre and The Fountain Theatre. The play, directed by Stephen Sachs, premiered in April 2012. Following Cyrano, Kotsur directed the feature film No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie, which premiered at the Heartland Film Festival in 2013.
In 2021, Kotsur appeared in the feature film CODA in a supporting role as the deaf father to a hearing teenage daughter. Director Sian Heder first saw his performances in Deaf West productions of Our Town and Edward Albee's At Home at the Zoo and cast him as part of the ensemble. NPR reported that Kotsur's performance in CODA "awed both audiences and critics".
Kotsur is set to start in Flash Before the Bang, a sports drama television show with an all-deaf cast.
Kotsur is married to actress Deanne Bray.