Hearing his name announced at the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday was “a really special moment” for new Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan, who was advised early in his career to change his name.
After winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, a triumphant Quan stopped by the press room adjacent to the Dolby Theater and recalled his manager once encouraging him to adopt a stage name. The ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ star was credited as ‘Jonathan Quan’ or ‘Jonathan Ke Quan’ in some of his early films, such as ‘Breathing Fire’ and ‘Encino Man.’
“When I started as a kid, it was my real name, Ke Huy Quan, and then I remember, when it got really hard, my manager said to me, ‘Maybe it’ll be easier if I have an American-sounding name,'” he said. Quan told reporters in the press room.
“I was so desperate for a job that I would do anything. And it’s insane that…I would try under a different name – not the name I’ve been given – but it can only show you how desperate I was to try and try and try to make things different.”
Quan won his first Oscar Sunday night for his moving portrayal of immigrant father and laundromat owner Waymond Wang in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” — which took home the coveted Best Picture award. Throughout the 2023 awards season, Quan talked about being shunned by Hollywood after entering the entertainment industry as a child actor.
“When I decided to go back to acting…the first thing I wanted to do was go back to my birth name,” Quan continued.
“And tonight, to see Ariana [DeBose] open that envelope and say: “Ke Huy Quan” … I was so excited. The first image that came to my mind was my mom…that’s why I’m in America, she was why I have a better life. I have all these opportunities. …she sacrificed so much.”
Quan was ecstatic when he arrived in the press room — grinning ear to ear, bouncing up and down, lifting his Oscar trophy and blowing kisses to the crowd before heading off to celebrate.
“Wow wow wow!” he exclaimed. “You are the nicest group of people I have ever seen. First of all, can you believe I am holding one of these?…So this is the famous room where all the winners come. Wow. Hi!”
The 51-year-old actor also gave a nostalgic shout out to his ‘Goonies’ co-stars nearly four decades after playing Data in the cult ’80s film.
“My younger self wouldn’t know all the struggles I went through to be here because he was just having the time of his life as a kid, being on a set… on a pirate ship, going down a waterslide, Quan said as she recalled her ‘Goonies’ days.
“I love them all so much, and each of them was so happy. Sean [Astin] reached out – Josh [Brolin]Martha [Plimpton] – and we are always connected. The family and forever. The Goonies never say die.”
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.