In his emotional acceptance speech, the 51-year-old star gave a shout-out to his 84-year-old mom and said, "Mom, I just won an Oscar!"
Ke Huy Quan won an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor category on Sunday night for his performance in the sci-fi action-comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once. After a promising debut in 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies a year later, the child actor was forced into retirement in his early 20s because of a lack of roles for Asian actors in Hollywood. Now at 51, the actor made a historic win closing a nearly 40-year gap since Haing S. Ngor became the first performer of Asian descent to win the category in 1985, reports ET Online.
After taking the stage to accept the honor from last year's supporting actor winners Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur, an emotional Quan started his teary acceptance speech by giving a shout-out to his 84-year-old mother, who was home watching her son win his first Oscar. "My mom is 84 years old and she's at home watching. Mom, I just won an Oscar!" he proudly said through tears and continued, “My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refuge camp. And somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage,” he said through tears. “They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This — this is the American dream!”
Just hearing Ariana DeBose say his name made me cry. Love you, Ke Huy Quan. 💛💛💛💛💛 #Oscars— Ken Jeong (@kenjeong) March 13, 2023
"Thank you so much. Thank you so much to the Academy for this honor of a lifetime," he said and then went on to thank the special people in his life. "Thank you to my mom for the sacrifices she made to get me here. To my little brother who calls me every day just to remind me to take good care of myself. I love you, brother."Quan also thanked his Everything Everywhere All at Once family, including directing duo the Daniels, producer Jonathan Wang, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Yeoh and his Goonies co-star and "brother for life," Jeff Cohen, who is now Quan's lawyer.
Quan gave special mention to his wife who supported him through the years and pushed him to keep his dream alive. "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," Quan said. "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." By the end of his speech, Quan expressed his gratitude to the Academy and Hollywood. “Thank you,” he said. “Thank you so much for welcoming me back. I love you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Quan has won several awards for his recent role including a SAG Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a supporting role. He also won at the Golden Globe Awards and Critics Choice Awards earlier this year. The actor previously spoke to PEOPLE reflecting on what being nominated at the Oscars meant to him. "We have so many Asian actors being nominated in major acting categories. I'm really thrilled about it, and it means that this past year, our stories are being told. When something like this happens, it just reinforces my belief that impactful change can happen," he added. "I'm so grateful to the Academy for recognizing all of us. Getting nominated is a big, big deal. I cannot believe I'm an Oscar-nominated actor. This is unbelievable to me," Quan said at the time.