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Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan felt joy when his ‘birth-given name’ was read aloud at Dolby

A man with short black hair wearing a tuxedo points at an Oscar trophy in his other hand
Ke Huy Quan attends the 95th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
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Hearing his name announced at the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday was “a really special moment” for newly minted Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan — who was advised toward the beginning of his career to change his name.

After winning the Oscar for best supporting actor, a triumphant Quan stopped by the press room adjacent to the Dolby Theatre 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 tough, my manager told me that, ‘Maybe it will be easier if you were to have an American-sounding name,’” Quan told reporters in the press room.

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“I was so desperate for a job that I would do anything. And it’s insane that ... I would try a different name — not the name that was given to me — but it can only show you how desperate I was to try and try and try to make things different.”

Ke Huy Quan won the award for supporting actor, his first, for his role in ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once.’

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Quan won his first Oscar on Sunday evening for his moving turn as immigrant father and laundromat owner Waymond Wang in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” — which took home the coveted prize for best picture. Throughout the 2023 awards season, Quan has been vocal about getting shunned by Hollywood after breaking into the entertainment industry as a child actor.

“When I decided to get back into acting ... the very first thing that I wanted to do was to go back to my birth-given name,” Quan continued.

“And tonight, to see Ariana [DeBose] open that envelope and say, ‘Ke Huy Quan’ ... I was so emotional. The first image that I had in my mind was my mom ... who is the reason why I am in America, was the reason why I have a better life. I have all these opportunities. ... She sacrificed so much.”

He was a young favorite -- Short Round in ‘Temple of Doom,’ Data in ‘The Goonies’ -- then he left acting, or rather, acting left him. Now he’s back in ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once.’

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Quan was ecstatic when he arrived in the press room — smiling ear-to-ear, bouncing up and down, hoisting his Oscar trophy and blowing kisses to the crowd before he departed to celebrate.

“Wow, wow, wow!” he exclaimed. “You are the most beautiful-looking group of people I have ever seen. First of all, can you believe I’m holding one of these? ... So this is the famous room where all the winners come. Wow. Hi!”

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The 51-year-old actor also gave a nostalgic shout-out to his “Goonies” co-stars nearly four decades after he played Data in the cult classic film from the 1980s.

“My younger self would not know all the struggles that I went through to be here because he was just having the time of his life being a kid, being on a set ... on a pirate ship, going down a water slide,” Quan said while reminiscing about his “Goonies” days.

“I love all of them so much, and every single one of them was so happy. Sean [Astin] reached out — Josh [Brolin], Martha [Plimpton] — and we are always bonded. Family’s forever. Goonies never say die.”

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