Ke Huy Quan took home the Academy Award for best actor in a supporting role at the Oscars on Sunday night, delivering a moving speech as he accepted the honor.
“My mom is 84 years old, and she’s at home watching. Mom, I just won an Oscar!” Quan said, opening his speech to riotous applause and cheers from the audience.
“My journey started on a boat,” Quan continued. “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, this, is the American Dream.”
Quan’s win was the latest in an extensive line of accolades for the “Everything Everywhere all at Once” star, who earned widespread acclaim and popular praise for his performance in Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s hit film.
Quan has become known for rousing acceptance speeches as he’s collected prize after prize at major award ceremonies this year. The actor delivered his remarks with trademark candor after winning the Oscar on Sunday night.
Quan’s role as the devoted husband and business partner of an overworked laundromat owner, played by fellow Oscar nominee Michelle Yeoh, marked an inspiring comeback for the actor, who stepped away from the big screen in the early 2000s after rising to prominence as a child actor in the ’80s films “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies.”
“Dreams are something you have to believe in,” he said Sunday night. “I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive. Thank you, thank you so much for welcoming me back. I love you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Quan was born in Vietnam and moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was a child. He became the second performer of Asian descent to win the Oscar for best supporting actor, and the first in nearly four decades, after Haing S. Ngor won the award for his role in “The Killing Fields” in 1985. Quan was nominated with Brian Tyree Henry, for “Causeway,” Barry Keoghan, for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Brendan Gleeson, for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” and Judd Hirsch, for “The Fabelmans.”
The “Everything Everywhere” actor read for the film’s male lead after a break from acting that lasted more than two decades. Quan told “Sunday Morning” in February that opportunities for him to continue acting were sparse just a few decades ago, so he built a career working as a stunt coordinator on films like “X-Men” after graduating with a degree from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He said his dream of returning to acting was reawakened with the release of “Crazy Rich Asians” in 2018.
“I saw it three times in the theater; I cried every single time,” Quan said. “But one of the reasons why I cried was because I wanted to be up there with them.”
Prior to the Academy Awards, Quan had already won numerous awards for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and was the favorite to win on Sunday night. He previously earned the Golden Globe for supporting actor in a motion picture, and took home the corresponding titles at the Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Quan’s historic win from the Screen Actors Guild marked the first time an Asian performer was given a distinction in the category for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role.