It was a historic night Sunday for Michelle Yeoh and her Everywhere Everything All At Once co-star Ke Huy Quan at the SAG Awards. Yeoh became the first Asian Best Actress Film winner in SAG history for her portrayal of Evelyn Wang, while Quan became the first Asian Best Supporting Actor Film winner for portraying Waymond Wang.
The A4 film won four awards tonight including Best Film Ensemble, solidifying its front-runner status heading into the Oscars.
Yeoh rose to fame in the 1980s and ’90s as an action star doing much of her own stunts before finding an international audience through films like the James Bond pic Tomorrow Never Dies and Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
“I think if I speak, my heart will explode,” Yeoh told her peers in her acceptance speech. She also thanked SAG-AFTRA for “understanding what it [takes] to get here” since they can all relate to the “journey and the roller coaster ride and the ups and downs” of the industry.
She added, “This is not just for me, this is for every little girl that looks like me.”
Quan was a rising young star while Yeoh was climbing the ladder. He famously played Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Data in The Goonies, among other memorable roles. He took a break from Hollywood and earned a film degree from USC before taking on jobs behind the scenes.
He made a splashy return as an actor in Everything Everywhere All at Once and has since become the sweetheart of the awards circuit.
“This is a really emotional moment for me,” Quan said through tears tonight. “Recently, I was told that if I were to win tonight I would become the very first Asian actor to win in this category. 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.”
Quan recalled stepping back from acting due to a lack of opportunities for Asian actors. “And now, tonight,” he said, “here we are celebrating James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Hong Chau, Harry Shum Jr. The landscape looks so different now than before.”
Quan closed his speech with a message to anyone watching from home who is struggling or who is waiting to be seen: “Please keep on going because the spotlight will one day find you.”