'CODA' star Troy Kotsur stole the show when he performed the anthem using American Sign Language (ASL) at the Super Bowl LVII.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 13, 2023. It has since been updated.
When Chris Stapleton took the stage at Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, to perform the US National Anthem, it was a proud moment for the audience. The rendition of "Star-Spangled Banner" was emotional and did not leave a dry eye. However, "CODA" star Troy Kotsur stole the show when he performed the anthem using American Sign Language (ASL). According to Deadline, this is the first time an artist has performed alongside an Oscar winner. Troy Kotsur won the Oscar for the best-supporting actor, for his role as fisherman Frank Rossi in "CODA" at the 94th Academy Awards.
Initially, Kotsur was hesitant to perform in the big game, but when he learned that it would take place in his hometown, he told Variety, "Hell yes, I’m in. It’s really a big deal for me. I feel extremely honored to be here in my hometown. How could I turn it down?" He also talked about camera angles and how music wasn't his thing. "I love sign language. It’s very poetic when you sign songs, but it’s a challenge to get the timing and the rhythm to sync up with the singers. But after I made the decision, I did a lot of research and analysis that helped me get a better understanding of the author’s intention." He then added, "I’m adding a little salt and pepper that will make it even more poetic, even more delicious. It's a form of visual art. That’s my personal art form as a visual performer. So I’m putting it all out there."
Can I just say I love how they have ASL signer for the national anthem at the super bowl😊— myheroin (@myheroin1) February 2, 2020
On February 12, Troy joined Colin Denny and Justina Miles as the three official ASL interpreters for the Super Bowl. The 54-year-old was thrilled to be part of the team. "The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) invited me here and it's so great to see this diversity representing different types of deaf communities," he said during a press conference. Moreover, he also explained why he would be channeling Francis Scott Key, the writer of the National Anthem, according to E! News. "He witnessed what happened during the Revolutionary War and seeing that the flag was still there, and the smoke and the fire and even through it all, the flag had remained," Troy said.
"I'm becoming Francis and putting myself in his shoes and telling it from his perspective." He added, "I'm going to show you all what I'm seeing and what he wrote, which was pure poetry. I'm going to add in my personality as an artist, and put it all out there to show you all my work." Kotsur said he even feels "prouder to be an American." He is also the first deaf male actor to receive an Academy Award after his co-star, Marlee Matlin, who made history herself in 1987 when she became the first-ever deaf performer to win an Oscar. He looked back on his "amazing" journey to the Oscars and thanked "CODA" director Sean Hader for being "the best communicator."
"You brought the deaf world and the hearing world together," he said, reports E! News. "You are our bridge, and your name will forever be on that bridge." Kotsur's father had been the best signer in his family before a car accident paralyzed him from the waist down and he was no longer able to sign. Kotsur added, "I just wanted to say that this is dedicated to the deaf community, the C.O.D.A. community, and the disabled community. This is our moment."