“Everything Everywhere” Celebrates Asian Success at the Oscars


Credit: Key Huy Quan’s Instagram

Social media has been going crazy with the recent Oscar wins of Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, the first Asians to win Best Supporting Actor and Best Actress.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” won best picture at the 95th Academy Awards held on March 12, 2023, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Michelle Yeoh won Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor went to Ke Huy Quan. The audience couldn’t hold back their emotion toward Yeoh and Quan, the first two Asians to win in these categories.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” received kudos from the audience and critics. Yeoh, a 60-year-old actress born in Malaysia, performed an outstanding leading role in the movie. And the comeback of Ke Huy Quan, a 51-year-old actor from Ho Chi Minh City, after quitting acting for years, was inspiring. The movie also had the participation of other Asian actors like the legendary James Hong, who played Mr. Ping in the 2008 comedy “Kung Fu Panda.”
The last time an Asian won an Oscar was two years ago. Yuh- Jung Youn won Best Supporting Actress for “Minari.” She was the first Asian actor to win an acting Oscar since 1985.
“Everything Everywhere,” released on March 11, 2020, and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, grossed $100 million in global ticket sales with $68.9 million in the United States and another $31.1 million internationally. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” became the first A24 movie to hit that box office benchmark, according to a July 2023 Variety article.
“Everything Everywhere” is the story of Evelyn Wang (Yeoh), a Chinese woman stressing out because of her failed marriage to Waymond, played by Ke Huy Quan. James Hong plays Wang’s aging father. Wang soon finds out that there are many Evelyns in the multiverse besides her – and that she is the only one who can save the multiverse from an alternative version of her daughter.
As a theater teacher and immigrant from Puerto Rico, Dr. Jorge Rodriguez, Williston’s Theater Director, believes this ceremony was the right time to give Yeoh the credit she deserves.
“This performance encapsulates so much of what makes her such a skilled, versatile actor,” he said. “I think the Academy knew this was the perfect opportunity to honor her career.”
Quan was fascinated by his character when he read the script for “Everything Everywhere.” The directors were looking for a leading man who could juggle martial arts sequences, Wong-style brooding, and the impossible optimism of a Chinese immigrant father. Directors Kwan and Scheinert initially thought that Quan was giving a too-good-to-be-true impression of Waymond at the audition before realizing that’s just Quan himself, according to Vanity Fair.
Quan’s comeback was miraculous and explosive in the industry, Dr. Rodriguez believes.
“Quan’s story is remarkablegoing from being a beloved child actor, to being ignored by Hollywood, and now winning an Oscar. Hollywood loves a comeback story,” he said, “and he is nearly impossible to resist,” he said.
Quan first starred in “Indiana Jones” in 1984. His next movie was “The Goonies” in 1985. He then appeared in the TV sitcoms “Together We Stand” and “Head of the Class.” However, opportunities gradually disappeared because every offer sent to him was too small and similar.
“It’s always difficult to make the transition from a child actor to an adult actor,” Quan opened up to the Telegraph. “But when you’re Asian, then it’s 100 times more difficult.”
Then, he decided to give up Hollywood until he watched “Crazy Rich Asians” three times in 2018. His passion for acting prompted him to start over without knowing that he was on his way to getting his very first Oscar.
The awards they received this time were tremendously important to the industry in general and to the Asian community in particular. Both actors emotionally expressed their appreciation in their speeches.
“Recently, I was told that if I were to win tonight I would become the very first Asian actor to win in this category,” he said. “When I heard that, I quickly realized that this moment no longer belongs to just me; it also belongs to everyone who has asked for change.”
“This is not just for me; this is for every little girl that looks like me,” Yeoh shared.
Lauren Yee, a senior from Hong Kong, is proud of Yeoh and Quan and said her parents are big fans of Michelle Yeoh.
“They both made a really big breakthrough in the industry and are definitely special because I see myself represented in the media,” she said.
After waiting so long, Wade Nguyen couldn’t hide his happiness for these two stars.
“I feel like we just have not been celebrated or we have not won an Oscar in the Asian community for such a long time,” Wade, a senior from Ho Chi Minh City, said. “And now, we actually won one and it’s very well deserved. It just made my day.”