Film Academy Launches 'Members Only' Digital Series Starring Troy Kotsur, Paul Raci & More (Exclusive)

Film Academy Launches ‘Members Only’ Digital Series Starring Troy Kotsur, Paul Raci & More (Exclusive)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has launched a new digital series, Members onlywith actors and academy members Troy Kotsur and Paul Raci in its debut episode.

Out weekly, the four-part interview series seeks to celebrate the global film community through candid conversations among AMPAS members of the same branch, who discuss their travels, their work and what it means to be part of one of the world’s most industry leaders and professional organizations. Voices from the acting, composing, hair and makeup, and editing branches sit down for brief conversations throughout the first season.

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Exclusive series for AMPAS members only

Courtesy of AMPAS

After Kotsur and Raci, two members of the acting branch, other episodes will feature composition members Natalie Holt (The impossible, Paddington) and Pinar Toprak (Captain Marvel, shotgun wedding); members of the makeup and hair sector Massimo Gattabrusi (Bones and all, Volver) and Ana Lozano (Being the Ricardos, Pain and Glory); and editors Shannon Baker Davis (The photography) with Terel Gibson (Sorry to bother you, ready or not).

In the first installment of the series, which premiered on Thursday, Kotsur and Raci talk about the TAIL the star’s Oscar win, breaking into entertainment, and their shared 30-year industry journey. It’s a friendship that dates back to the mid-1990s, when the duo worked on a stage adaptation by John Steinbeck Of mice and men.

Throughout the episode, Raci recalls “all those years together at Deaf West Theater” where both “were struggling actors,” while celebrating Kotsur’s dedication to being a “pure actor” and staying true to the profession amidst “all the real shitty actors running through.”

“If it meant you had to sleep in your car and travel somewhere — work with no money — you did it,” she says. “I have never stopped working until today in the theater. Same thing for you.

Kotsur says his decision to go more into filmmaking was driven by those wondering why they didn’t see him in films. “I started hearing those insults and criticisms. It was like maybe I should become a teacher, or maybe I should do something, but I was stubborn, persistent and tried to find a way to survive.

The actor reveals that the financial security of his family, especially his daughter, played a part in changing his “mindset to financially support my family,” something he tells Raci required sacrifice.

“I washed cars, mowed lawns, helped in the kitchen, washed dishes,” she recalls. “We would and I would try to pay my wife back. I would give people free tickets to see the show because I had no way to thank people for helping us.

As part of the 10-minute conversation, the two also discuss the advice they would give to young actors, particularly Deaf talents, looking to break into the film industry. At one point, Raci talks about the experience of growing up in the 1950s, when “there were no technologies for the deaf” like closed captioning, and seeing the Elvis movie Love me tenderly to the cinema with his mother.

“I act as an interpreter for my mother. I was playing Elvis, his brother, the lover, the horse,” she recalls. “My mom liked it, you know? And on the way home, we were so connected because we shared this theater experience.

Kotsur talks about his film experience, along with his first love for movies like Godzilla and show how Tom & Jerry. The Oscar winner said he’s always “looking for some kind of visual action” in movies.

“There were fight scenes, there were chase scenes and so on with (the) cat and mouse, and it was fascinating to me as a young deaf boy,” he tells Raci. “I memorized these incidents and told the story the next morning on the school bus on our way to the deaf school. And many of these deaf children didn’t have TVs at that time. So I would tell them what I had seen the day before, and these kids were fascinated by it. I saw the gleam in their eyes. They really enjoyed my storytelling, and that’s where my spark started.


You can watch the conversation in full above. Future episodes of Members only will release Thursday on The YouTube channel of the Academy.