The Emotional Success of Ke Huy Quan


Andrea Koo, Staff Writer

On March 12, 2023, the 95th Oscars were held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. Influential celebrities and predominant producers and directors flooded the theater to take their seats at this prestigious tradition, one that has defined Hollywood and the cinematic industry for ages. Among these stars sat 51-year-old Ke Huy Quan, who was just about to win his first Oscar.

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Ke Huy Quan was born on August 20th, 1971, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam as one of the nine children in his family. In 1978, when he was still but a child, his family fled Vietnam. Alongside his father and five other siblings, Quan fled to a refugee camp in Hong Kong, and his mother and three siblings went to Malaysia before the whole family was reunited in the United States. At the age of 12, Quan became a child actor. He had a career breakthrough starring as Short Round, Harrison Ford’s sidekick, in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Shortly after, he garnered fame playing the character Richard Wang in the 1985 movie Goonies. From then on, he starred in movies such as the Taiwanese movie It Takes a Thief, the Japanese movie Passengers, and Breathing Fire, but failed to gain increasing fame. Between 2002 and 2021, he didn’t have a single IMDb acting credit.

Around 1998, Ke Huy Quan decided to quit acting and enrolled in the film program at the University of Southern California. Following his graduation, he became a stunt coordinator and assistant director. For the next decade, he worked behind the scenes of movies in both Asia and the United States in movies such as X-Men, The One, and 2046.

In 2018, Crazy Rich Asians—starring Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Awkwafina, and a multitude of accomplished Asian-American actors and actresses—became a hit. Ke Huy Quan, now nearing 50 years old, watched the movie three times in theaters and decided that it was time to come back to the thing he loved: acting.

Two weeks after getting a talent agent, Quan got a call to audition for the film Everything Everywhere All at Once. In January 2020, he was announced as a cast member. He played Waymond Wang and was described as “the perfect fit for him.” When the movie was released, it congregated overwhelming international acclaim, and Quan received both praise and attention for his outstanding performance. Eventually, he won an astonishing amount of critic awards, as well as a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and most recently, an Academy Award. He became the first Asian man to win any individual category at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the first Vietnamese-American actor to be nominated in Ke Huy Quan on 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' Oscar Nomination – The Hollywood Reporterthat category. At the end of his emotional Oscars acceptance speech, Quan urged in tears, “Dreams are something that you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive.”

Where can we see Quan again? He plays a supporting role in the Netflix film Finding ʻOhana, released in 2021. In February 2022, his casting was announced for the TV adaptation of American Born Chinese on Disney+. In September 2022, Quan was announced to have joined the cast for the second season of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series Loki for Disney+.

Breaking the mold and stigma of “forgotten child actors”, Ke Huy Quan was able to overcome his difficulties and achieve his dreams, teaching viewers all around the world that we, too, can do the same. “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.”

Watch his full acceptance speech here: