Troy Kotsur dedicated his Oscar to “the deaf community, the Coda community and the disabled community”, adding: “This is our moment”, as he made history with his best supporting actor win.
The actor is the first deaf male performer to win an Oscar as he won the statue for his role as the father of Coda (child of deaf adults) in the film of the same name.
Kotsur appeared overwhelmed as he made his way to the stage accompanied by his interpreter, who has been a regular fixture throughout his awards season journey, where he has picked up a string of gongs.
Discussing his recent trip to the White House with the rest of the cast of Coda, he revealed he had wanted to teach US president Joe Biden “dirty sign language”, a reference to a scene in the film, but was prevented by his co-star Marlee Matlin, who was the first deaf performer to win an Oscar in 1987.
He said: “I was planning on teaching them some dirty sign language but Marlee Matlin told me to behave myself, so don’t worry Marlee I won’t drop any f-bombs in my speech today.”
He also praised the “wonderful deaf theatre stages, where I was given the opportunity to develop my craft as an actor.”
Addressing his director Sian Heder, he said: “You are our bridge and your name will forever be on that bridge Sian Heder bridge in Hollywood.”
Kotsur added: “My dad he was the best signer in our family, but he was in a car accident and he became paralysed from the neck down and he was no longer able to sign.
“Dad, I learnt so much from you I’ll always love you, you are my hero. Thank you to my biggest fans.
“I just want to say this is dedicated to the deaf community, the Coda community and the deaf community.
“This is our moment.”
Earlier in the ceremony, West Side Story star Ariana DeBose won the best supporting actress Oscar and spoke of her pride of being an “openly queer woman of colour.”
The star, 31, collected her gong dressed in red Valentino trousers and a crop top and said her win was proof that “dreams do come true”.
DeBose won the Oscar for her performance as Anita in the classic musical, 60 years after her predecessor in the role, Rita Moreno, earned the statue herself.
DeBose added: “Now you see why Anita says I want to be in America because even in this weary world that we live in dreams do come true and that’s a heartening thing right now.”
On the production, she added: “It was the summer of a life time and I am the most privileged and grateful to have spent it with all of you.”
“My God thank you Steven Spielberg, you’re stuck with me now.”
The actress also paid tribute to Moreno, saying she “paved the way for tonnes of Anitas like me”.
Concluding her speech, DeBose added: “Imagine this little girl in the back seat of a white Ford Focus.
“Look into her eyes, you see an openly queer woman of colour, an Afro-Latina, who found her strength in life through art.
“And that’s what we’re here to celebrate.
“So to anyone who has ever questioned your identity or you find yourself living in the grey spaces…I promise you this, there is indeed a place for us.”
Disney juggernaut Encanto was named best animated film at the ceremony.
Eight Oscars were presented in a pre-recorded segment of the show, which will be edited into the final telecast.
Dune collected four gongs, for sound, editing, production design and score for composer Hans Zimmer.
Zimmer celebrated his win from Amsterdam, where he is on tour.
He shared a photo on Twitter of himself in a bathrobe with his statue and wrote: “It’s 2am in Amsterdam, and my daughter @zoezimmer woke me up to go the hotel bar. Wow!!”
The film also picked up wins for cinematography and visual effects.
The Long Goodbye, starring Riz Ahmed, won best live action short, while The Windshield Wiper won best animated short and The Queen Of Basketball won best documentary short.
The Eyes Of Tammy Faye won the Oscar for makeup and hairstyling.
Tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams opened the Oscars by introducing a performance of Beyonce’s nominated song Be Alive from the movie about their father, King Richard, which she delivered from a tennis court in Compton.
She was flanked by dancers and an orchestra all dressed in the colour of tennis balls.
Hosts Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall kicked off the ceremony with Sykes joking the ceremony was “where movie lovers unite and watch TV”, while Schumer added the Academy had “hired three women to host because it’s cheaper than hiring one man”.
She added she was “representing unbearable white women who call the cops when you get a little too loud”.
Hall also referred to the choice to move eight categories to a pre-recorded segment, saying it was “a controversial and difficult decision but I think we’ve moved on”, as the lights flickered on and off on the stage.
The Oscars are being held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, where Benedict Cumberbatch, Olivia Colman and Sir Kenneth Branagh are among the nominees.