What a year it’s been for Ke Huy Quan. Quan, who took home a Golden Globe and SAG Award for his portrayal of Waymond Wang in “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” also won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Academy Awards. Here are some highlights from his grateful and enthusiastic acceptance speech:
“My mom is 84 years old, and she’s at home watching. Mom, I just won an Oscar! My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp, and somehow I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This is the American dream! … I owe everything to the love of my life: my wife, Echo, who month after month, year after year for 20 years told me that one day my time will come. Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive!”
Born in Vietnam, young Quan and his family fled to a refugee camp located in Hong Kong, and from there, they moved to Los Angeles in the late ’70s. Audiences first met the charismatic young actor as Indie’s resourceful sidekick Short Round in the 1984 adventure film “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” followed by his portrayal of Data in the “The Goonies.” While Quan was a child star from the get-go, his career momentum slowed as the years went by.
After graduating from USC School of Cinematic Arts, Quan worked as a fight choreographer and stunt coordinator in productions such as “X-Men,” worked in the sound department for “The Other Side,” and was an assistant director for the film “2046.” In 2021, he had a small role in the Netflix show “Finding ’Ohana,” which provided him with a chance to polish his acting chops after decades had passed.
Steven Spielberg, who cast young Quan in “Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies,” told “Access Hollywood,” “The thing to remember is, any of us, when we’re casting, we’re not doing it for the person we cast; we’re doing it for the common good of the movie, or the play. Casting is about, ‘How do we serve the script? How do we serve the whole endeavor?’ So I never think of it as giving somebody a break or giving somebody a kind of opportunity to get in the life with more than they had before they came and got the part …. So with Ke, [I thought] he’ll be great for Short Round. When I met him, he took the room by storm. Still does! He has a positive energy—so full of positive love. And he just reaches out with his heart, and that’s who he was as a kid auditioning for the movie.”
After thanking Spielberg while accepting his Golden Globe trophy, Quan revealed, “When I started my career as a child actor in ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,’ I felt so very lucky to have been chosen. As I grew older, I started to wonder if that was it; if that was just luck. For so many years I was afraid I had nothing more to offer—that no matter what I did, I would never surpass what I achieved as a kid. Thankfully, more than 30 years later, two guys [‘EEAAO’ directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert] hired me. They remembered that kid, and they gave me an opportunity to try again. Everything, everything that has happened since has been unbelievable.” Indeed, his success continues—Quan will soon be joining the Marvel Universe, and is set to appear in six episodes of the second season of “Loki.”
When accepting his SAG Award, the actor acknowledged the historic moment, saying, “Recently, I was told that if I were to win tonight, I would become the very first Asian actor to win in this category. When I heard this, I quickly realized that this moment no longer belongs to just me. It also belongs to everyone who has asked for change … To all those at home who are watching, who are struggling and waiting to be seen, please keep on going because the spotlight will one day find you!”
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