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'I felt seen': Chicago's deaf community reacts to 'CODA' winning Oscars for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor

'It's the first time we're seeing a movie like this' 02:41

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Amid all the chaos at the Oscars, the film "CODA" took home three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. 

Troy Kotsur became only the second deaf person to win an Oscar. He won for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film. CBS 2's Marissa Perlman reports on what those wins mean for the deaf community here at home.

"CODA" is bringing a rare moment of visibility for deaf culture in the entertainment world and it's what many call decades overdue.

"This is dedicated to the deaf community, the CODA community, this is our moment," Kotsur said.

A historic night at the Oscars, for the team behind "CODA." It stands for Child of Deaf Adults, and tells the story of Ruby, the only hearing member in her family, balancing her love of music, and her desire to support her loved ones.

"I can't stay with you for the rest of my life," Ruby said.

You'll see Ruby sharing the American Sign Language phrase for "I love you" on screen. A universal sign that also sits in Karen Aguilar's office at the Chicago Hearing Society.

"It's the first time we're seeing a movie like this," Aguilar said.

She said the victory for "CODA" is also a victory for her team, seeing representation for the deaf community in Hollywood.

It's one of the first times we see deaf actors playing deaf characters and being recognized for it.

'I hope this is just the first film of many that portrays a deaf role families and deaf culture."

The story also resonates with Kathy Valiska, an interpreter and a CODA herself.

"Last night, I watched the awards and I felt seen."

The youngest of eight, she grew up with two deaf parents and often had to navigate two worlds.

"The movie is nothing like my life, but 100% like my life," Valiska said.

But the non-hearing part of her life, she calls a blessing.

"I had access to my parents lived experiences," Valiska said.

Michele Cunningham, a hearing advocate, said the movie mirrors some of her experiences of being a deaf woman in Chicago.

"It shows to the hearing world.... they're just like you," Cunningham said.

She's hopeful the film will shed light on deaf culture and the access this community needs to thrive.

"The hearing community needs to realize deaf people can do anything, except hear."

Cunningham went on to say the film portrays this family as relying heavily on their hearing child, and in reality, most deaf parents are independent and don't require as much support.

Best Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur for his role in “CODA”!

Posted by Chicago Hearing Society on Sunday, March 27, 2022

The cast of the movie called on Hollywood Sunday night to be more inclusive and simply hire more deaf actors.

Thank you CBS Chicago's Marissa Perlman and Allen Manisalco for interviewing us today about CHS, the CODA film, being...

Posted by Chicago Hearing Society on Monday, March 28, 2022
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