The 94th edition of the Academy Awards was held on Sunday night, and besides a few incidents during the ceremony, one of the highlights of the night was Troy Kotsur winning Best Supporting Actor for CODA. Kotsur, the first male deaf actor to win an acting Oscar, is a member of the Star Wars community too.
He was the first deaf actor to appear in a Star Wars project when he played one of the Tuskens in Chapter 5 of The Mandalorian. He is also credited in Chapter 1 of The Book of Boba Fett as the creator of the Tusken Sign Language. Congratulations to him and the entire deaf community for this unprecedented win.
Kotsur spoke to Daily Moth in early 2020 about his Star Wars fandom and why he decided to invent a brand-new language for the Tuskens. He said that he became a Star Wars fan when he was eight, despite the fact that accessibility for deaf people was rather limited at the time:
“Eight years old! I have been a fan since that age. Remember that in the year of 1977, technology was limited and accessibility for Deaf people were limited, but that Star Wars movie blew my mind. It changed my life. Why? It was like ‘wet-eyes’ – so visual for me. For the first 5 minutes, remember the opening of that movie? The spaceships shooting, the robots, C-3P0 scrambling, and all of that overwhelmed my eyes. I watched it 28 times. I watched the movie Star Wars: A New Hope 28 times.”
He then explained why he wanted to avoid ASL in favor of a new language:
“I did research on the culture and environment of Tusken Raiders. I researched on the desert called ‘sand people.’ That is what Luke Skywalker calls them ‘sand people.’ Anyway, my goal was to avoid ASL. I made sure it became Tusken Sign Language based on their culture and environment.”
In late 2021, a couple of months before The Book of Boba Fett premiered, Kotsur was made an honorary member of the 501st Legion “for bringing depths to our beloved Star Wars characters and for developing the language of the Tusken Raiders”.
Tusken Raiders approached/signed w/ Tusken Sign Language! , “For bringing depths to our beloved Star Wars characters, and for developing the language of the Tusken Raiders. It is our pleasure to award Troy Kotsur with Honorary Membership into the “501 st Legion.”,Tusken signed pic.twitter.com/6qgLQWsHhe
— Troy Kotsur (@TroyKotsur) November 1, 2021
Congratulations to Troy Kotsur and the entire deaf community for this historic win. May the Force be with you! You can check out his beautiful speech below — it was truly one of the most wonderful moments of the night. And if you are interested in seeing how the rest of the ceremony went, you can also check out the live coverage and recap we did on our sister site Movie News Net.