An audio reading of the My Hero story Ke Huy Quan - Immigrant to Award-Winning Actor
For Asian Americans, seeing yourself and your culture on the Hollywood big screen is rare. Ke Huy Quan serves as the Asian immigrant role model for generations spanning from 1984 to 2023. His starring role in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom sparked his acting career at just 12 years old. As a child, he had the potential to make it big in Hollywood for the rest of his life, but after a following role in The Goonies, his run in acting was over
Quan struggled to be cast in another film project despite being so well-known for his previous roles. It wasn’t until recently that he was back in the spotlight, winning numerous awards for his role as Waymond in the Academy award-winning film Everything Everywhere All At Once. Now at the age of 51, Quan reflects on not only his acting career but also his journey to America.
Many may not know that Quan himself was a refugee. In 1978, his family decided to flee Vietnam and found their way to Hong Kong, living in a refugee camp for an entire year. After they were granted political asylum, he rode on a plane for the very first time and landed in the city of stars, Los Angeles. Unlike other stars who grew up in Hollywood, Quan can relate to the immigrant struggles of not knowing where your life is going to end up. In his acting career, you can see that same struggle, but his persistence is what led him to triumph as he accepted his first Oscar in 2023.
After 40 years, Quan finally achieved one of the most valued awards in the film industry. Although he wasn’t being cast in any major films, he didn’t waste his time waiting for an opportunity. As an adult, Quan pursued a degree in film studies at the University of Southern California, learning the behind-the-scenes of the film industry. He humbly moved from the forefront to the background but he never completely let go of his passion for films. Quan’s rejections didn’t push him away from what he loved and now after many years in the industry, he carries the knowledge of not only acting but production, choreography, and directing. “I was taught never to blame anybody. If something doesn’t go the way you want, it’s either because you didn’t work hard enough, you weren’t good enough or you didn’t try hard enough,” said Quan in an interview with Variety.
He was a great actor at 12 years old and he’s still an amazing actor at 51. Despite decades without acting, his talents - an Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe - show that he’s always been a natural on the big screen. Quan’s story embodies every essence of perseverance and ambition. His road to success is not only inspiring to Asian Americans but for all individuals who have faced rejection and failure.