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Actor Troy Kotsur to Keynote Commencement Address at UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television

Writer-director-producer Amy Aniobi will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Actor Troy Kotsur to Keynote Commencement Address at UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television

Brian Kite, interim dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, announced today that Academy Award-winning actor Troy Kotsur (CODA, Spring Awakening) will deliver the keynote address at the school's 75th annual commencement ceremony. Writer-director-producer Amy Aniobi will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. Dean Kite will preside over the event to be held on Friday, June 10, 2022 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at UCLA's Royce Hall.

"It is an honor to welcome Mr. Kotsur to deliver the commencement keynote address following his sublime and hilarious performance in CODA," says Kite. "Mr. Kotsur's groundbreaking achievements as member of, and advocate for, the Deaf community serve to remind us that the perspectives and stories of individuals from all backgrounds and abilities are not only important but vital to the future of the arts. Our diverse student body is the future, and Mr. Kotsur is the perfect person to inspire the next stage of their careers."

Troy Kotsur earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Frank, the Deaf fisherman father of a hearing daughter who wants to be a singer in director Sian Heder's CODA (2021). The film also won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Kotsur is the first Deaf male actor and only the second Deaf actor overall to win the Oscar, after his CODA co-star Marlee Matlin for her role in Children of a Lesser God (1986). Kotsur also earned BAFTA, Critics' Choice, Gotham, Independent Spirit and Screen Actors Guild awards, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his CODA role. A native of Mesa, Arizona, Kotsur began acting in grade school. He studied theater, film and television at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and following graduation, toured with The National Theatre of the Deaf. He began working with the Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles in 1994 where he directed and acted in several stage productions including Spring Awakening. In 2012, he was nominated for an Ovation Award for his role in the Deaf West Theatre production of Cyrano. Kotsur's film credits include The Number 23 (2007), Universal Signs (2008), No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie (2013), which he also directed, and Wild Prairie Rose (2016). On TV, he has had roles on Strong Medicine, Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye, Doc, CSI: NY, Scrubs, Criminal Minds and the Disney+ series The Mandalorian. For the latter, he created the Tusken sign language, which has also been used in the show's spinoff series The Book of Boba Fett.

In recognizing Aniobi, Kite says, "We are proud to be celebrating the accomplishments of Amy Aniobi. As a writer, producer and director, Amy has emerged as an important talent in Hollywood, who is utilizing her success to elevate Black voices and to encourage the inclusion of Black creatives in the industry. She is the needed change we want to see in the industry and honoring her and her work with this year's Distinguished Alumni Award will be an inspiration to our graduates and a reminder that their voices matter."

Amy Aniobi received her MFA in screenwriting from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 2011. She is a writer-director-producer best known for her work on the NAACP Award-winning, Emmy-nominated HBO comedy series Insecure and recently directed an episode of Rap Sh*t, HBO Max's highly anticipated comedy series from Issa Rae. She also directed the award-winning short film Honeymoon, which explores a modern-day Nigerian couple's awkward first day of marriage. Aniobi has two studio features in development and has an overall deal at HBO/HBO Max where she recently sold Enjoy Your Meal, a pitch based on the food media scandals during the summer of 2020. Aniobi is the founder of production company SuperSpecial and talent incubator TRIBE. She has served as a mentor for several writing programs, including the Sundance New Voices Lab and Sundance Episodic Lab and has taught TV writing in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television's MFA screenwriting program. Before serving as writer and executive producer on Insecure, Aniobi was showrunner on HBO's 2 Dope Queens and a writer on HBO's Silicon Valley. She began her career writing for NBC, performing improv at Upright Citizens Brigade, and writing, directing and producing comedy web series such as Lisa and Amy Are Black, The Slutty Years and The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Aniobi received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 2006.

About UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

The vision of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television is to serve as a premier global interdisciplinary professional school that develops outstanding humanistic storytellers, industry leaders and scholars whose diverse, innovative voices enlighten, engage and inspire change for a better world. Consistently ranked as one of the top entertainment and performing arts institutions in the world, UCLA TFT offers an innovative curriculum that integrates the study and creation of live performance, film, television and the digital arts. The distinguished graduate and undergraduate programs at UCLA TFT include acting, directing, writing, producing, animation, cinematography, lighting design, set design, costume design and sound design. The school also offers doctoral degrees in theater and performance studies, and cinema and media studies.

Pictured: Troy Kotsur

Photo Credits: Matt Stasi

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