On Sunday, 26th February, Korean actor Ke Huy Quan made history by becoming the first Asian Male actor to win an individual Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG). Since the inception of SAG in 1994, no other male Asian actor has been awarded this recognition.
Quan was awarded this honor in the Best Supporting Actor category for his performance in the movie “Everything, Everywhere, all at once”. Even the movie made history by winning 4 awards during the course of the night, including every acting category apart from Best Actor, which went to Brendan Fraser for his performance in “The Whale”.
In his acceptance speech, Quan commented how he was aware of the fact that winning this award would mean that he would be making history and further went on to say that this moment was no longer solely owned by him, but would now be shared with the people of his race as a signal that the status quo in the industry is finally changing.
Quan had been working in the industry since a very young age, bagging his first role in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ at the age of 12 in 1984. In 1985, he followed it up by appearing in “The Goonies” which, at the time, was a major box-office hit.
Then, due to the lack of roles for an Asian man in Hollywood over the years, Quan took on jobs which required him to be behind the camera. And slowly, he even proceeded to move away from those jobs.
Then, he credits a movie called “Crazy Rich Asians” for showing him that Hollywood is again becoming accepting of Asian actors and they are getting roles with weight and depth, as that movie was the first Hollywood Blockbuster to have a cast of predominantly Asian Actors. His co-star, Michelle Yeoh, was also one of the actors in that film.
After this realisation, the first role that he was offered was to play the role of Waymond Wang, husband to protagonist Evelyn Wang (played by Michelle Yeoh) in Daniels’s “Everything, Everywhere, all at once”.
“Everything, Everywhere, all at once” has been a critical and commercial darling since its release in theatres back in early 2022. Produced by A24, the movie largely revolves around an immigrant Asian family, trying to find their way back to each other. The Daniels have stated many times that this film was heavily inspired and was dedicated to their own parents. The movie has been lauded by a lot of the Asian population for its accurate and realistic portrayal of an immigrant family.
In an interview, Quan elaborated on his initial fears of “Everything, Everywhere, all at once” being a one-off opportunity for him. He said that the frequent delays in the shooting process due to the pandemic would make him think back to his late 20s, where he would not even get a call-back in response to the auditions he gave.
Quan has been dominating the awards season this year by winning multiple awards at many prominent shows. This year, Quan has also garnered an Oscar nomination in the Best Actor category. Quan is also set to become a crucial part in the Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and has also been cast in a series with Disney.
Quan’s return to Hollywood, has recently been termed by many as significant and timely. Hollywood, in the past few years, has been more responsible and accepting of their prejudiced history and is opening up the giant gates it had once built around itself, to people from other races. One of the most prominent examples of this change was Parasite winning the Oscar for Best Picture, which was a Korean film, with little to no English dialogue and an entirely Korean cast. The return of Ke Huy Quan and the success of “Everything, Everywhere, all at once” is also proof of the fact that art and stories have no borders.