In one of many tenderhearted scenes in the new coming-of-age drama “CODA” — an acronym standing for “child of deaf adults” — the teenage protagonist, Ruby Rossi, is having a heart-to-heart talk with her mom, Jackie.

Jackie, an exuberant former model played by Oscar winner Marlee Matlin, confesses in American Sign Language to her daughter (played by Emilia Jones) that when Ruby was born, she prayed in the hospital that she would be deaf like both her parents and her older brother. It’s a jarring admission for a 17-year-old to digest, until it clicks for Ruby, a singing prodigy, that her mom is actually revealing that she feared she wouldn’t connect with her daughter if they forever inhabited two different worlds, ones with and without sound.

This short mother-daughter scene in “CODA,” in select theaters and Apple TV+ starting Friday, Aug. 13, illuminates a fascinating, little-known aspect of life in families with hearing and deaf relatives.

It also delivers a message universally relatable to anyone who is an adolescent or is raising one: Don’t all parents and teens feel like they inhabit different worlds to a degree? Isn’t it possible to feel like an outsider in your own home?

“I really like that combination of introducing audiences to the specific nuances of experiences within a deaf family they probably haven’t seen before, and also including universal experiences I remember from when I was a teenage girl — a first kiss, the awkwardness of a sex talk with your parents, being embarrassed by your dad,” the film’s writer and director Sian Heder told The Chronicle via video chat.

Heder filmed “CODA” on location in the small fishing town of Gloucester, Mass., where she spent her summers growing up. Her script focuses on a pivotal moment in Ruby’s life — whether she’ll pursue her dream of leaving home to study music in Boston, thereby leaving behind the responsibility she’s shouldered her entire life acting as her parents’ interpreter — at shops, restaurants, doctor’s appointments and daily in the predawn hours before school on the family’s commercial fishing boat.

The Rossi family, played by the exceptional deaf actors Matlin, Troy Kotsur (as Ruby’s dad, Frank) and Daniel Durant (her brother), in addition to Jones, is close-knit, feisty and at times very funny. They curse, tease, bicker and embarrass each other. They also share an enviable depth of connection, despite their differences.

Heder insisted producers cast deaf actors to play the Rossi family, in a departure from the original French film on which “CODA” is based, “La Famille Bélier.” The fact that “CODA” was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival in February, earning rave reviews and taking home four top honors (U.S. grand jury dramatic prize, the audience award for best picture, and best director and ensemble acting awards), and landed a record-setting $25 million distribution deal with Apple “meant so much to me because of what it means to the industry.”

“(The Apple acquisition) says that telling stories like this, with central characters who are deaf or have a disability, can be profitable,” said Heder, who wrote for “Orange Is the New Black” and is the showrunner of “Little America” on Apple TV+. “Hopefully studios and financiers start to understand that there’s a business reason to start telling these stories on top of the fact that audiences have a hunger and an excitement for them.”

Forty percent of the film’s script is in ASL, and Heder described filming those sections as “an exciting challenge to make sure jokes, for instance, play well visually.” Scenes were framed to capture an actor’s full-body expressiveness, the way a gag or an insult is told with hand gestures, instead of close-ups of their faces.

Kotsur, a standout as Ruby’s wisecracking dad, recalls how profound the experience of seeing Matlin — his onscreen wife in “CODA” —  in “Children of a Lesser God” was back in 1986, when he was a teenager in Arizona with performance dreams but zero role models as an aspiring deaf actor.

“To see her signing onscreen, the first deaf actor I’d seen in a movie, and then winning that (Academy Award) was a complete inspiration,” Kotsur said through an ASL interpreter on a video call. “I thought it made Hollywood ready for authentic character representation. But we’ve had to wait so many years since then.”

Heder discovered Kotsur at a performance at Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles. She found out later that he’s the father of a teenage CODA daughter himself. (Matlin is the mother of four CODA children.)

“I thought of my own daughter, her attitude, sometimes her embarrassment, and our father-daughter relationship,” said Kotsur of filming the poignant scenes he shares in “CODA” with Jones.

“Troy and Emilia, who’s close in age to Troy’s daughter, formed an intense, beautiful bond because they felt like they could see reflections of their own life” in the story, added Heder. She recalled filming a knockout scene toward the end of the film in which Ruby and Frank are sitting out on his truck at night under the stars.

“I knew it was working emotionally” in the moment, Heder said. “My camera operators were crying. I was crying. Emilia and Troy were crying. My (ASL) interpreters had to walk off the set because they were so emotional.

“That was the moment I thought, ‘I know that something special is happening here. Something that’s bigger than us.’ ”

“CODA” (PG-13) is available on Apple TV+ and opens in select theaters Friday, Aug. 13.