HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — Award-winning actor Daniel Durant made a return to RIT’s campus Friday. Durant, most known for his role in 2022’s Oscar-winning Best Picture ‘CODA,’ is also an alumni of the RIT National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

News 8’s Natalie Kucko spoke with the actor on why he says the film changed the landscape for the deaf community, as well as his message to students.

Durant, a deaf actor, attended RIT/NTID in 2007. In 2012, his career in professional acting began with most notable roles in the TV show ‘Switched at Birth,’ theatre production of ‘Spring Awakening,’ and the film, ‘CODA.’ Durant was also a recent contestant on ‘Dancing With The Stars.’

“This whole time, we’ve been trying to let the world know about our culture and why ASL is important as a language, and ‘CODA’ was perfect. It was a perfect movie to show the audience that they could enjoy and also learn more about us,” said Durant.

The film’s title, CODA, stands for ‘Child of Deaf Adults,’ and tells the story of a daughter, who is the only hearing member of her family.

Durant plays her older brother. He says the success of the project caught the cast by surprise.

“After ‘CODA’ got the Best Picture award, I saw the world start to change. I’m excited about that, but I’m concerned because it’s a hot time right now. People know about us, but will it continue? You know in history, things go up and down, so this is important to keep this fire going. We need to work together,” said Durant.

Durant shared how RIT served as his first real-world experience, and says he’s grateful to come back and share his message with students.

“I want to see more young actors and I want to try my best to influence them, and I’m proud to represent for the next generation. I want to show that we can be the same,” said Durant.

Durant also hinted at a major project in the works, and while details are limited, he did say to look out for an upcoming film role.