The 94-year-old inspired applause as he accepted the Best Motion Picture Cast prize on behalf of Everything Everywhere All at Once.
James Hong recalls producer telling him 'Asians were not good enough' in SAG Awards speech: 'Look at us now!'
James Hong achieved a lifelong dream when he won his first prize from the Screen Actors Guild at Sunday's 2023 SAG Awards, and dedicated his impassioned acceptance speech to advancing Asian representation in Hollywood.
The acting veteran's Everything Everywhere All at Once costar Michelle Yeoh first introduced the performer by noting that the 94-year-old had been acting "since there were only 49 states," and it took nearly seven decades of work to get him to the SAG Awards stage.
"I got my first SAG card 70 years ago. My first movie was with Clark Gable," Hong said as he accepted the ensemble honor for Cast in a Motion Picture.
"Back in those days, I have to tell you this, the leading roles were played by these guys with their eyes taped up," he continued while his Everything Everywhere cast members — including Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu — stood beside him. "And the producer said that Asians were not good enough, and they are not box office. But, look at us now, huh?"
Stephanie Hsu, Tallie Medel, Brian Le, James Hong, Andy Le, Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan accept the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award for "Everything Everywhere All at Once" onstage during the 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on February 26, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
| Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Hong then joked that Jamie Lee Curtis, who earlier in the evening won the Female Actor in a Supporting Role trophy, was a welcome addition to the project's cast.
"We're not all Chinese," he said. "But, 'Jamie Lee' is a good Chinese name."
He finished the speech by expressing hope that he'll return to the SAG Awards after he turns 100.
Hong appeared in Everything Everywhere All at Once as Gong Gong, the father to Yeoh's Evelyn, a laundromat owner who traverses multiple universes while protecting family ties and her business from a nefarious version of her daughter (Hsu) as well as different iterations of Curtis' menacing IRS inspector, Deirdre.
In her SAG Awards acceptance speech for Female Actor in a Leading Role, Yeoh also said that she hoped her performance would stand as an inspiration to Asian women.
"I think if I speak, my heart will explode. SAG-AFTRA, to get this from you, who understand what it is to get here, every one of you know the journey, the roller coaster ride, the ups and downs, but, most important, we never give up," she said, later adding: "This is not just for me; this is for every little girl that looks like me.... Thank you for giving me a seat at the table because so many of us need this. We want to be seen, we want to be heard, and tonight you've shown us that it is possible, and I'm grateful. And my mom will be eternally grateful to you!"
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Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022 movie)
Michelle Yeoh plays a harried laundromat owner tasked with saving an infinite number of universes in this science fiction-action-comedy-drama from Swiss Army Man directors Daniels.type Movie genre Sci-fi Comedy Action Drama mpaa