Duluth's Daniel Durant, cast of Oscar-nominated 'CODA' welcomed to White House

The cast of the Best Picture contender met with first lady Jill Biden and President Joe Biden in the Oval Office.

Family sit, arm in arm, on tailgate of pickup truck. Mother and father, at center, smile at one another. Adolescent daughter and son flank at left and right, respectively.
The cast of "CODA," in the film's poster image, from left: Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant.
Contributed / Apple TV+

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Duluth actor Daniel Durant joined other "CODA" cast members in an emotional visit to the White House on Tuesday afternoon, with President Joe Biden telling the actors how much their movie meant to the entire nation.

The visit first became public knowledge when actor Marlee Matlin, who stars in "CODA" as Jackie, the mother of Durant's character Leo, tweeted an image of herself along with Durant and fellow cast members Emilia Jones (Ruby) and Troy Kotsur (Frank). "We were blown away when (President Biden) and (first lady Jill Biden) told us that they loved ("CODA") and its theme of family authenticity," Matlin wrote on Twitter. "We also found out that the White House staff cried when they watched the film!"

The Hollywood Reporter later filled out the story behind the visit: The cast members were invited "to come meet with the White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Public Engagement to discuss inclusion, access and employment for Deaf Americans, as well as have a meet-and-greet with Dr. (Jill) Biden."

When the cast members arrived, after the meeting, for a private tour of the White House, they were surprised by the United States Marine Band performing the song "You're All I Need to Get By," which Jones sings in the film. Durant, Matlin and Kotsur are deaf; the actors placed their hands on a piano to feel the vibrations of the music.

Jill Biden then surprised the actors by leading them into the Oval Office, where they were greeted by President Biden. "I assume you understand the impact you had on the whole country," the president said as Durant stood beside him in the Oval Office. The first lady later shared clips of the visit on social media.


The White House visit marked the latest step in an extraordinary journey for the team behind "CODA," which was written and directed by Sian Heder and released by Apple TV+, where it is currently available to stream. The $10 million movie has landed a raft of Hollywood's most coveted awards, and may add up to three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, on Sunday .

Last August, as buzz for the film grew, Durant told the News Tribune that he was "thrilled" at the film's success. "I really hope this will help change things in the world for the better, increase seeing ASL (American Sign Language) on screen."

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; he's also a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Minnesota Film Critics Alliance. You can reach him at or 218-279-5536.
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