Let’s talk about the Oscars… and not the thing that social media wants to talk about.
Youn Yuh-Jung, who became the first Korean actress to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2021, appeared as a presenter for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
She wore a UN Refugee Agency blue ribbon pin on her dress, in support of the Ukrainian refugees campaign.
She also captured the audience’s hearts when she presented the Oscar in American Sign Language to Troy Kotsur, the first deaf male actor to win an Academy Award.
Following the phrase “And the Oscar goes to,” Youn paused to sign “congratulations.”
“Shang-Chi” star Simu Liu was also a presenter at the 94th Academy Awards on March 27. He teamed up with Tiffany Haddish to present the Oscar for Best International Feature Film.
And of course, South Asians Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film for “The Long Goodbye.”
LA Weekly wrote that the “media should be celebrating the diversity of the Oscars winners list… instead of arguing about who was right or wrong,” in regards to the punch that made collective jaws drop.
In case you missed it, Will Smith struck Chris Rock on stage after Rock directed a G.I. Jane joke at Smith’s wife and actress, Jada Pinkett Smith.
It “shouldn’t be about being ‘Team Rock’ or ‘Team Smith’… it’s about the films,” stated LA Weekly. “Despite a rough past couple years for the movie industry thanks to the pandemic, last night showed that the art can still be powerful and inspiring, and it is getting more inclusive.
Especially after the #OscarSoWhite boycott of 2016 (which the Smiths were a part of), it’s important to put personal feelings aside and focus on this progress.”
Ever since #OscarsSoWhite became hugely popular around the world, the Academy has tried to be more inclusive of people of color in their nominations.
Such change has been demonstrated in the past few years too, with the Academy passing several milestones in the previous two ceremonies, with Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite becoming the first foreign film of all time to win Best Picture in 2019 and Chloé Zhao making history as just the second woman ever to win Best Director for Nomadland in 2020.
Whilst its slow progress, it’s certainly a start.
We love seeing Asian presenters and nominees flaunting their heritage through traditional costumes on the red carpet.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” star Kelly Marie Tran became the first actress in Oscar history to arrive in the áo dài—she had her emerald green dress specially created for her by Vietnamese American designer Thai Nguyen.
“Writing With Fire” directors Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh both donned traditional Indian costumes to the red carpet, as well as “Lunana” director Pawo Choyning Dorji, who showed off the Bhutanese gho.
Let’s see more Asian representation on-screen and behind the scenes, on the big screen and small screen. It’s not traditionally a career path that Asian parents would approve of or condone. Perhaps it’s time for a change. What’s not to like? Those who succeed in the entertainment industry enjoy money and prestige (check Asian parent boxes), along with fame. It’s time to step into bigger roles—literally and figuratively.