CODA Wins An Award for Best Cast

CODA Emilia Jones Daniel Durant Sian Heder Marlee Matlin Troy Kotsur and Eugenio Derbez | Emma Mcintyre Getty Images for WarnerMedia
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This movie CODA made history with its win for the 2022 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards’ top prize of Best Cast and the actor, Troy Kotsur wins an award for Actor® for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. This is Marlee Matlin’s 2nd award since she won the Best Actress Motion Picture Drama for her movie “Children of a Lesser God” at the Golden Globe in 1987. Marlee walks on stage with her cast members in shock and in awe that CODA won an award.

Marlee Matlin is not only an actress, but she is also a strong advocator for the Deaf community. She uses her career to spread the awareness and educate people about Deaf people. Also, Marlee is a Deaf adult of hearing children. This was one of her daughter’s (Sarah Grandalski) reaction to CODA,”Growing up, I did have the opportunity to go on set with [Matlin] a lot, so when I did go on set, it wasn’t anything new to me,” Grandalski said. “I didn’t pay as much attention as much as I feel like I should have. That’s what made me watching the movie with her when it was done so much better. I was really able to see the whole story that was told, and things that I could have related to as I was growing up with my mom being deaf. It really touched me in a way that leaves me speechless. I cry honestly every time I talk about it. I tell everybody to watch it. It truly puts you in perspective. Not a lot of people understand. So it really makes you open your eyes to appreciate what you have because you know, it’s not the same for everybody, and it’s a beautiful story.”

CODA is a movie about a hearing child in a Deaf family. This movie was released on August 13, 2021 on Apple TV+ and was the first film that had closed captions burned in. It starred Emilia Jones, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin, and Troy Kotsur. Emilia who played Ruby is the only hearing of her Deaf family Jackie (Marlee), Frank (Jack), and Leo (Daniel). Ruby has the passion for singing and wants to go to music school, but her family depends on her to keep the fishing business running, so Ruby gets caught between her dream and her family. The underlying purpose of this movie is it shows the experiences of a CODA who struggles growing up in a Deaf family for many reasons. This movie also shows various perspectives of hearing person and a deaf person, but it also shows the cultural differences as well.

CODA means Child of Deaf Adults. Deaf children in a hearing family will feel left out, ignored, different. CODAs feel the exact same way as a Deaf child will feel. Imagine growing up in a family that cannot speak and communicates through only sign. Of course, the child will grow up learning American Sign Language as their first language, but when the child becomes older, the child is bullied for coming from a Deaf family who speaks and behaves “weirdly”. Also, the child does not properly learn to speak, so the child will speak with a Deaf tone, therefore are made fun of and mocked at. People are not aware that there is cultural differences and differences in behavior, way of approaching, and communicating. 

Here is an example:

In the movie when Ruby’s parents went to pick Ruby up from school, they had the music blasted at high volume which drew attention of the whole school. Ruby was embarrassed and told her parents to turn down the music. Of course, her parents ignored her and said they loved the music turned all the way up and the feel the vibration through their body. In this example, it shows that Deaf people behave different from hearing people. Firstly, Deaf people cannot hear, so the way for them to enjoy music is by feeling it, which the music needs to be at high volume. Secondly, listening to music at high volume is the norm for them, whereas for hearing people it’s quite embarrassing. 

Here is another example:

In the movie, Ruby brings a friend over to her house to work on a Duet. Her parents had no idea that Ruby invited a friend to their house and her parents were having a pleasure moment. This became awkward and totally embarrassing for Ruby. The parents are Deaf, so they can’t hear themselves where as the daughter and her friend are hearing can hear everything that is going on. It doesn’t stop there. Her parents, Ruby, and her friends sits down awkwardly to address the elephant in the room. Deaf people are blunt, animated, and have no filter. Ruby’s embarrassment grew and she wished her parents acted maturely and appropriately. It doesn’t stop there. Ruby’s friend shares with his close friend and somehow the rumor got around, and the whole school knows what happened.

These two examples show that CODAs faces struggles when growing up in a Deaf family. Deaf people cannot hear and are very blunt. It is the norm for Deaf people to make unfiltered comments and gestures. There are many more examples that distinctively show the differences between the Deaf and hearing community.

Katelyn’s thoughts on this movie was she found it hilarious and entertaining to watch. Katelyn is the only deaf child in her hearing family and although she is immersed the Deaf community, this movie was eye opening for Katelyn to see and learn about life of a CODA. Katelyn met several CODAs in her life but never thought or wondered how life is life for them. Katelyn watched this film with her hearing family. It was interesting to see and hear their reactions to the movie. In the first example, Katelyn completely understood and did not find it “rude” to have the music blasted at high volume. However, since Katelyn grew up in a hearing family, she is mindful and considerate of hearing people. However, Katelyn will sometime forget and can become loud during quiet times. It was far interesting to see my family’s reaction to the 2nd example. One of her family members mentioned that Ruby’s parents were rude and not considerate of Ruby having a friend over; whereas Katelyn reaction was that this type of behavior is completely acceptable and normal in the Deaf community. There are many other examples where our reactions and perspectives are different. I think this movie does not only show the community and cultural differences, but it shows the different perspectives of how a hearing person and deaf person feels in the situation. It gives the audience the insight and gives them the awareness of what it is like being in the other person’s shoes.

Finally, Deaf people are shining through and are marking their accomplishments. This does not only bring triumph and collaborative moments for the Deaf people, but most importantly these films are opening the door for more exposure and awareness of Deaf people and the community. Even though CODA was recognized and awarded for the Best Cast, it does not stop there. More and more Deaf people are on the media and becoming influencers. As a community, Deaf people want hearing people to see what Deaf people are capable of doing and be mindful and aware of the cultural differences, languages, history, and community. There are times where the Deaf community is not getting recognized, for instance, the 2022 Super Bowl, so that is why Deaf people continue to stand their ground and fight for the attention, rights, and equality. The Deaf community is also inclusive of various genders, ethnicity, religion, and political backgrounds, so we are a supportive and diverse community.


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