After nearly 70 years in the business, actor James Hong, 94, won his first Screen Actors Guild Award on Sunday with his “Anything Everywhere Anytime” co-stars, which set a record for the top awards. four in the evening, including celebrities. work by casting.
Actresses Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu used their acceptance speech to recognize Hong’s legendary career, which spanned nearly 700 years in movies, television and video games, including “Chinatown,” Blade Runner,” “Kung Fu Panda.” “Seinfeld” and more.
On stage, Hong thought back to the early days of his career, when he used to type letters on the side of the white and yellow guides. Hong recalls that the producers “said Asians were ugly and out of office. But look at us now!”
After many years in the industry, Hong is gaining public recognition for his work. Hong received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2022, making history as the longest-serving recipient of the honor. Daniel Dae Kim, co-star and friend of Hong, started a fundraising campaign in 2020 to raise the $55,000 needed for the star, which was raised in four days.
Hong said he is more of an actor today than ever. “I dedicated all this time to acting and here I am,” he said in a recent interview with KTLA 5. “Anything happens! Ever happened.”
Hong grew up in Minneapolis and became interested in acting at a young age, inspired by Chinese opera singers who would visit his father’s herbal shop. He started acting in elementary and high school, and organized dance shows to entertain the troops when he was drafted for the Korean War.
He was working as a civil engineer when he got his break on “You Bet Your Life” in 1954 impersonating host Groucho Marx. Hong found an agent and left engineering for good.
His early work consisted of small and limited images of Asia through tropes.
“I tried my best as an actor to overcome my passion because I had to keep working,” he said in an interview with CNN in 2020. “I took these jobs and used what my teachers taught me they taught me and I put the real feeling, even if it’s bad… I try to find what makes the person the real person.”
Over time, he has worked to advocate for better representation of Asian and Asian American characters on screen, including the creation of East West Actors, an Asian American theater group in LA that has been active for more than 50 years. years spent with actors Randall Park, George Takei, John Cho and others.
Now, “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a big favorite during the awards season. The multi-jump film has been nominated for several Academy Awards, and Hong said that for the first time in his 70 years in the business, he will sit on the first floor of the ceremony. Oscar.
Hong doesn’t plan to stop working anytime soon. His upcoming projects include reprising his role in “Kung Fu Panda 4,” writing and acting in the adventure film “Patsy Lee & The Keepers of the 5 Kingdoms,” and reuniting with “Anything Everywhere” co-star Michelle Yeoh on Apple TV. More series “American Born Chinese.”
“I can only retire on my pension, my [Screen Actors Guild] retirement, and going to Europe and touring, and India,” Hong told CNN. “But something in me, in James Hong, wants to keep making movies and keep going… I’m going to do some movies until he can’t walk and can’t talk anymore. Then, I’ll go on tour.”
Hong said he hopes to see movies and TV shows better represent Asian Americans in everyday life “to see us play roles like doctors and businessmen and politicians, like the reality of society.” ,” he said in 2022 variety.
“I’ve been doing this for 70 years and it’s just starting as far as I’m concerned,” he added. “Maybe 10 years after I looked down on this world I said, ‘Yeah, go ahead.’
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