Oscars 2023: Winners honor immigrant parents in their speeches

The children of immigrants paid a moving tribute to their parents on Sunday at the 95th Academy Awards.

While accepting Oscars for their contributions to best picture winner “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” director Daniel Kwan, producer Jonathan Wang and actor Ke Huy Quan honored their mothers, fathers and the sacrifices they made to support them on stage at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” — a genre-defying family film starring Quan and Michelle Yeoh as immigrant parents who own a local laundromat — took home the awards Sunday for best picture, lead actor, supporting actor, supporting actress , director, original script and editing.

“We are all descendants of something and someone, and I want to acknowledge my environment, my immigrant parents, my father – who fell in love with movies because he had to escape from the world and so he passed that love of movies on to me,” said Kwan. — who directed “Everything Everywhere” with creative partner Daniel Scheinert — said in his acceptance speech.

“My mother, who is a creative soul who wanted to be a dancer, an actress, a singer, but couldn’t afford the luxury of that life path and then gave it to me.”

After “Everything Everywhere” won the night’s top prize, a tearful Wang dedicated his trophy to his “dad, who – like many immigrant parents – died young”.

“He’s so proud of me – not about that [award] — but because we made this film with what he taught me,” Wang said. “Which is… no one is more important than anyone else.”

Kwan was also moved, addressing his mother directly while accepting his supporting actor Oscar.

“My mom is 84 years old and she’s at home watching,” Quan said. “Mom, I just won an Oscar!

“My journey began with a boat,” he continued. “I spent a year in a refugee camp. And that’s how I ended up here on the biggest stage in Hollywood. … This is the American dream.”

Kwan, Wang and Quan expressed their gratitude for their parents in the press room next to the Dolby Theater, where Oscar winners hold their trophies and take questions from reporters each year.

Kwan talked about his relationship with his mother, who is from Taiwan and was present “somewhere running around celebrating”. He recalled how his mom decided to homeschool him for a few years “just to protect” his creativity, which “obviously paid off.”

“She is someone who loves to change her passions every couple of years. He’s always chasing new dreams and always doing a really good job of it,” Kwan said.

“He is someone who sacrificed a lot for the children. She never wanted to be a mother, to be honest. And he told me before because he’s very honest, which is very Asian. But I think that really makes it even more beautiful – knowing how much he gave up for me and my brothers.”

Wang shared that his father, who was also from Taiwan, died before the release of “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” but inspired some of the film — including a comedic moment in which Evelyn Wang (Yeoh) refers to mistake in the Disney-Pixar movie “Ratatouille” as “Raccacoonie”.

“He was a movie buff with the most Taiwanese father, where he always got the movie titles wrong,” Wang said. “So this movie is a love song for our Taiwanese parents.”

In the press room, Quan told reporters he immediately thought of his mother when host Ariana DeBose opened the supporting actor’s envelope and read his name.

“The first image I had in my mind was my mom … who’s the reason I’m in America, who’s the reason I have a better life,” Quan said.

“I have all these opportunities. … He sacrificed so much. She had a great life where we came from, and she gave it all up so that all her children—there are nine of us. Exists nine of us, and every one of them is so grateful to my parents.”

Quan, Wang and Kwan weren’t the only Oscar winners to shout out to their parents this year. During her acceptance speech, Yeoh saluted not only her mother but also “all the moms in the world because they really are the superheroes.”

“Without them, none of us would be here tonight,” Yeoh said. “[My mom is] 84, and I take that home to her. Currently watching in Malaysia … with my family and friends. I love you guys.”

After the show, Yeoh stopped by the press room and credited her mother for instilling “confidence” in her and teaching her about “love”, “kindness” and “compassion”. (“I’m not very good at it sometimes,” she quipped.)

“The latest thing he asked me to do is ‘Don’t wear pants to the Oscars,'” Yeoh said with a laugh.

“What mothers do is they constantly remind you to do better, and they do it with love. And they do it because they really want you to be better, so you have more opportunities and you’ll have a better life. And this is their ultimate goal for them.”

Jamie Lee Curtis, a self-proclaimed OG nepo baby, choked up while honoring her parents, the late Hollywood legends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, neither of whom ever won an Oscar.

“Both my mother and my father were both nominated for Oscars in different categories,” she said as she accepted the supporting actress award for her role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” “I just won an Oscar!”

Another Oscar winner who honored her mother on stage and in the press room was “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who made history Sunday as the first black woman to receive two Academy Awards.

“Last week, Mabel Carter became an ancestor,” Carter said during her acceptance speech. “This movie prepared me for this moment. Chadwick [Boseman]please take care of mom.”

Later in the press room, Carter referred to herself as her mother’s “partner” and “ride or die.”

“He always wanted me to follow my dream even after I graduated from college and came home to practice and didn’t know exactly where I wanted to take the next step,” Carter told reporters.

“I packed up my Volkswagen Rabbit and my mother said, ‘You don’t want to stay here. You can just go.” So I know she’s proud of me. I know he wanted this for me as much as I do.”

Times staff writer Steven Vargas contributed to this report.

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