Ke Huy Quan Is the First Asian Performer to Win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 38 Years

Quan follows Haing S. Ngor, who was the first Asian ever to win the category, for 1984’s “The Killing Fields”

2023-oscar-nominees-ke-huy-quan With Love
Ke Huy Quan attends the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on January 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Ke Huy Quan’s moment of Oscar triumph has arrived. On Sunday, the actor became just the second performer of Asian descent to win Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards, the first since Cambodian actor Haing S. Ngor’s win in 1985 for his debut performance in “The Killing Fields.”

Quan’s win at the Oscars was the final stop on a giddy romp through awards season, during which Quan collected plenty of hardware, including prizes at the Independent Spirit Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Golden Globes, as well as honors from critics groups, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and New York Film Critics Circle. His joyous, sincere and often moving acceptance speeches became a highlight of the season.

Born in Vietnam to parents of Chinese descent, Quan emigrated to the United States as a child and eventually broke into the film industry as a kid actor in the 1980s, starring opposite Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” He followed that up with a major role in “The Goonies,” but soon found his career languishing due to limited opportunities. He quit acting entirely, only returning to the profession in 2018. 

Heading into Oscar night, Quan was the heavy favorite, winning virtually every prominent precursor in the run-up to the ceremony, save for Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the British Academy Film Awards, where, though nominated, he lost to Barry Keoghan for his performance in “The Banshees of Inisherin.”