Oscars 2022: Ariana DeBose, 'CODA' break boundaries for representation, diversity

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The 2022 Oscars broke records, and had some triumphant firsts for representation and diversity among the artists.

When the Oscar nominations came out, a lot of people thought just making it on the list was an achievement for the little streaming indie "CODA." The film had three Academy Award nominations, and won all three.

WATCH | Troy Kotsur's Oscars acceptance speech

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Troy Kotsur of 'Coda' wins Oscar for Actor in Supporting Role, making him the second deaf actor to win an Academy Award.

The theater was filled with artists raising their hands in the sign language gesture for thunderous applause. It's the first time an original streaming film has won for Best Picture.

"CODA" is the story of deaf parents and their son who depend upon a hearing daughter, longing to raise her own voice. Director Sian Heder won for her screenplay.

"Writing and making this movie was truly life changing as an artist, and as a human being," Heder said.

Troy Kotsur is the first deaf actor to ever win. It's been 35 years since his co-star, Morton Grove native Marlee Matlin, became the first deaf actress to get an Oscar.

WATCH | Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin on the red carpet

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Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur, who star as Jackie and Troy Rossi in "CODA," give interview to George Pennacchio on the Oscars red carpet.

"My dad was the best signer," Kotsur said. "He was in a car accident, was paralyzed and no longer able to sign. Dad, I learned so much from you.

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

And for Ariana DeBose, who won Best Supporting Actress for her role in "West Side Story," it is a tale of hard-won inclusion.

"Imagine this little girl, in the backseat of a white Ford Focus, look into her eyes you see an openly queer woman of color, Afro-Latina who found her strength in life through art," DeBose said. "To anybody who has ever questioned your identity or find yourself living in the grey spaces I promise you - there is indeed a place for us."

WATCH | Ariana Debose's Oscars acceptance speech

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'West Side Story' star Ariana DeBose accepts the Academy Award for best supporting actress at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday.

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