Ke Huy Quan Chinese or Vietnamese: Quan, a Chinese Vietnamese actor, is only the second actor of Asian descent ever to win in his category – Haing Ngor (Chinese Cambodian refugee) won for his role in 1984 drama “The Killing Fields.” Ke Huy Quan has won the Academy Award for best supporting actor.
On Sunday, Quan took home the Oscar for his portrayal of a loving husband in “Everything Everywhere All at Once”.
“My mom, 84 years old and at home watching,” Quan tearfully shared in his acceptance speech. “Mom, I just won an Oscar!”
Quan, who is Chinese Vietnamese, became the second actor of Asian descent to win in his category. Haing Ngor – a Chinese Cambodian refugee – won for his role in 1984 drama “The Killing Fields.” Quan edged out Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan for “The Banshees of Inisherin”, Brian Tyree Henry for “Causeway”, and Judd Hirsch for “The Fabelmans.” Quan also spoke about his journey as a Vietnamese refugee in his speech.
“My journey began on a boat. After spending one year in a refugee camp, I somehow ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like mine only happen in movies – but this is happening to me! This is truly the American dream.”
Quan has won an array of awards for his role as Doctor Strange, in which his character attempts to save the multiverse while trying to hold onto his marriage and family together. At the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Quan made history as the first Asian man to win in this category; prior to that he took home best supporting actor awards at Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and Gotham Awards among others.
Although “Everything Everywhere” has thrust him into the spotlight, Quan has long been candid about his struggles in Hollywood – particularly after finding success as a child actor in the 1980s. His career started with “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” where he played Indiana Jones’ kid sidekick, Short Round. A year later, Quan was cast as Data in “The Goonies,” but opportunities soon dried up and he chose instead to pursue work behind-the-camera.
“Hollywood didn’t want me,” Quan revealed at The Hollywood Reporter’s “Actors Roundtable” on Tuesday. “I spent most of my late teens and early 20s waiting for the phone to ring, but it rarely did,” Quan continued. “The hardest part was parting with my dream that never materialized – being an Asian actor back then just wasn’t easy.”
Quan had already earned himself a respectable reputation behind the scenes as both a stunt coordinator and assistant director, working on projects like “X-Men.” But it was his experience working on blockbuster hit “Crazy Rich Asians” that ultimately convinced him to change course.
Quan revealed on “Roundtable” that his return to acting was inspired by the expanding roles for Asian actors, which Quan believes symbolizes an increasingly successful industry for them.
Quan expressed, “Hollywood has undergone a radical transformation. They’re providing more opportunities to a wider range of people than ever before. So I thought to myself ‘Maybe I should try acting again.'”
Quan was able to book “Everything Everywhere,” yet still struggled for work after production ended, he revealed on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” last month. But since the movie’s release, Quan said his career has taken an exciting turn; he will soon be featured in both Disney’s upcoming series “American Born Chinese” and Marvel’s second season of “Loki.”
Quan credited his wife Echo in his acceptance speech for providing him with the motivation to try acting again.
“Dreams require faith,” he said. “I almost gave up on mine.” To all of you out there, “please keep your dreams alive.”