Ke Huy Quan left the Dolby Theater in tears after winning an Academy Award for his role in Everything Everywhere Everything at once.
Considered a favorite to win, Quan took home the Best Supporting Actor award, defeating fellow nominees Judd Hirsch (the Fablemans), Brian Tyree Henry (elevated road) and two of The Banshees of Inisherin’cast: Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan, respectively.
During his speech, an emotional Quan thanked the people in his life who helped him get to where he is today.
“My mother is 84 years old and she is watching at home. Mom, I just won an Oscar!” the Vietnam-born actor began his speech. “My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp and somehow I ended up here, on the biggest stage in Hollywood.”
“They say stories like this only happen in movies. I can’t believe it’s happening to me. This, this is the American dream!” Quan said. “Thank you so much to the academy for this honor of a lifetime. Thank you to my mom for the sacrifices she made to get me here. To my little brother, David, who calls me every day to remind me to take care of myself. I love your brother!”
The actor then thanked the film’s cast and crew, including directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert and co-stars Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis.
He later gave a special shout-out to his former crazy co-star Jeff Cohen, who has since become an entertainment lawyer. He also reportedly helped Quan negotiate his contract for the film for which he won an Oscar.
“[Thank you] to my crazy brother for life: Jeff Cohen,” he said of his friend.
Quan especially thanked his wife warmly.
“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, one day my time will come. Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To everyone out there, please keep your dreams alive! Thank you so much for welcoming me back. I love you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Quan’s win marks one of Hollywood’s biggest comebacks. He started his career as a child actor in the ’80s and appeared in blockbusters like ’84’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and years 1985 The Goonies.
Quan’s portrayal of Waymond Wang in Everything Everywhere Everything at once earned him several awards leading up to the big night, including the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, and Screen Actors Guild awards.
Earlier this month, when Quan spoke about the years of journey it took to make it to the Oscars, Quan praised directors like Steven Spielberg for giving him an edge in the industry as a young Asian actor.
“Looking back, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were the first to star an Asian kid in a big movie,” he told Yahoo Entertainment. “Over the years, so many people have come up to me and said, ‘I wanted it are you when I was growing up.’”