The Importance of Advocacy in Making CODA, a Film Starring Deaf Actors

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Oscar-winning CODA, a film about and starring Deaf people, is a monumental win for the Deaf community. However, the advocacy work that went on behind the scenes for accurate and meaningful representation may be even more impressive. Galt takes a look at the importance of advocacy in making CODA and what we can learn from it.

Whether or not you tuned in to this year’s Oscars, there’s a good chance you heard about the monumental Best Picture win of CODA, a film about and starring Deaf people. Not only is this film a must-watch, its win is also a huge step forward for the disability community. 

In case you haven’t seen it, “CODA, which stands for Children of Deaf Adults, follows the Rossis, a blue-collar fishing family in Gloucester, Massachusetts, as their hearing daughter (played by Emilia Jones), who also acts as the family interpreter, is considering college,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

However, beyond the Oscar win, there’s a lot we can learn from the making of this film, including the importance of advocacy in casting Deaf actors and empowering people with disabilities to follow their dream career path. Here are Galt Foundation’s takes on CODA.

The Importance of Advocacy in Making CODA

While viewers see the final product of films, they don’t always see what goes on behind the scenes – literally. In CODA, the main Deaf characters are played by Deaf actors, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, and Daniel Durant, an incredible and important casting. However, it took having difficult conversations and putting in the work to get to that point of representation.  

According to The Hollywood Reporter, CODA is based on the 2014 French film La Famille Bélier, where the main roles were cast by hearing actors. When the Hollywood version was first pitched to Deaf actor Marlee Matlin, she backed out when she learned key roles in the film would be cast by hearing actors yet again. Luckily, CODA Director Sian Heder was on the same page, saying, “I truly felt like I would rather see the movie not get made than to see the movie get made with hearing actors.”

Marlee Matlin saw a golden opportunity for representation. Unlike films where Deaf actors play side characters, such as in A Quiet Place or Sound of Metal, now they’d be at the forefront of the film. “Here we are with three characters carrying the film. And we’re carrying it 100 percent authentically,” she stated to The Hollywood Reporter

Without the advocacy of Marlee Matlin and support of Sian Heder, CODA would be a very different film. For one, main roles would, once again, be prioritized for actors without disabilities, actors who have no lived experience being a Deaf or hard-of-hearing person. Instead, Deaf actors gained meaningful employment and the Deaf community is getting the representation it deserves. 

CODA’s Oscar is a Win for Persons With Disabilities in the Workplace

The employment of Deaf actors in CODA is an excellent case study of the importance of advocacy and representation of persons with disabilities in the workplace. It proves that employees with disabilities are more than capable in their trade of choice and empowers other individuals with disabilities to follow the career of their dreams. 

As an employer of persons with disabilities, Galt Foundation was thrilled to see CODA’s Oscar win. We will continue to work hard to ensure that employees with disabilities are working toward their desired career path by fitting them with an aligned job and helping them with the employment processes, where needed. 

Let Galt Foundation Help

Looking for your dream job? We’re here to help. Galt Foundation is one of the world’s largest temporary staffing organizations for individuals with disabilities. With over 20 years of experience, we’ll support you through the employment process and match you with the right job opportunity.  

If you’re currently searching for a new job, check out our latest employment opportunities for persons with disabilities here

Feel free to get in touch with our expert team. You can reach us here or call us at 1-877-361-1277.

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