Oscars win for CODA film boosts inclusion for deaf community in Michigan

Rapper Sean Forbes weighs in on monumental night for Deaf community

Coda stands for Children Of Deaf Adults. During the Oscars Sunday (March 29), you may have seen actors give an applause in American sign language when an actor from the Coda film won. That sent a powerful message to the deaf community in Michigan.

FERNDALE, Mich. – Sadly, the Will Smith incident at the Oscars has overshadowed some fantastic stories of Hollywood barriers being broken.

Best Picture winner, CODA is the first film with a largely deaf cast to win the Oscars top prize.

Troy Kotsur won best supporting actor for his performance in the film and is the first deaf man to do so. CODA’s Director Sian Heder also won Best Adapted Screenplay.

CODA stands for Children of Deaf Adults.

“It’s just a really exciting time to be deaf,” said Sean Forbes, a deaf rapper out of Ferndale.

Earlier this year, Forbes performed at the Super Bowl halftime show with fellow Detroiter Eminem, and this past Sunday (27), he was overwhelmed with emotion while watching the Oscars.

Read: Deaf Detroit rapper to perform during halftime of Super Bowl 56

“To see all of these actors waving their hands like this (applause in American Sign Language), I just had goosebumps, tears,” said Forbes. “My second favorite moment is when Sian Heder, the Director, brought an interpreter on stage with her and gave a speech with the interpreter right there. To me, that was just so powerful and to show the beauty of sign language and the beauty of access.”

Forbes said witnessing CODA win all three of the categories they were nominated for is significant to the deaf community, but the hope is that its reach will go beyond that.

“It just goes to show that anybody with a disability can overcome and can succeed,” Forbes said. “And this movie, I just hope that it really changes a lot of perceptions of the deaf community, of the disabled community, and especially the CODA community,” Forbes said.

Forbes said he has two children of his own that are considered CODA, which made the film more memorable for him.

“My kids haven’t seen the film,” Forbes said. “I don’t think it’s age-appropriate for them yet, but I look forward to the day that I’m able to sit down with them and for them to watch this movie and see themselves on the screen.”

Forbes believes that the monumental wins Sunday (March 27) night is just the beginning and has inspired people like him.

“For me, I want to go to the Grammys,” Forbes said. “I want to see, you know, the work that I do and the music that I make be recognized on the same stage. Those are goals for me, and this movie really showed that it’s possible.”


About the Authors:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.