#OscarsSoWhite seems like a distant memory.
After decades of limited, biased, and/or stereotypical representations, Asian Americans witnessed a milestone in Hollywood history. March 12, 2023—at the 95th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles—will be remembered as a watershed event for AAPI actors.
With four acting nominations that went to Asian performers, a full 20% of the total, the Motion Picture Academy has recognized more Asian actors in one year than at any time in its history.
Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor, respectively, as the multiverse-hopping laundromat owners in “Everything Everywhere All at Once”—a film that was nominated for 11 Oscars and won seven in all, including Best Picture.
It seems fitting that Yeoh has become the first Asian Best Actress winner. She’s been part of every watershed moment in Asian and Asian American cinema in recent decades—thanks to roles in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”
And we can’t get enough of Quan’s big comeback—he’s just the second Asian winner ever in the supporting actor category, joining Haing S. Ngor for “The Killing Fields” in 1984. The Vietnam-born actor first gained attention as a pre-teen in the hugely popular 1980s movies “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies.”
Quan mostly disappeared from Hollywood for over two decades, dispirited by the lack of on-camera work for Asian Americans. Inspired by the 2018 success of “Crazy Rich Asians,” Quan returned to acting and landed an audition for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
Stephanie Hsu, who played Yeoh’s and Quan’s daughter and nemesis, was a nominee for Best Supporting Actress along with Hong Chau, who played the best friend of Brendan Fraser’s title character in “The Whale.” Jamie Lee Curtis won that category for her role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
There’s “Everything Everywhere’s” writer-director Daniel Kwan, who is half of the directing duo known as Daniels with Daniel Scheinert—they both won Oscars for original screenplay and directing.
South Asians also witnessed big moments of glory when “The Elephant Whisperers” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short and RRR’s song ‘Naatu Naatu’ won for Best Original Song.
And Judy Chin, was a co-winner of the Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for her part in “The Whale.”
What a time to celebrate our moment on the big stage! While we will not be resting on our laurels for long, we are going to take some time to bask in the glory of our victory at the 2023 Oscars.