‘Mom, I just won an Oscar!’: Tearful winners thank their immigrant parents

A man in a tuxedo kisses an Oscar statuette.
Ke Huy Quan poses with the Oscar he won at Sunday’s Academy Awards.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

The children of immigrants paid touching tribute to their parents 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 onstage at the Dolby Theatre 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 — received the awards Sunday for best picture, lead actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, director, original screenplay and editing.


The 2023 Oscar winners include “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Brendan Fraser, Michelle Yeoh and “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

March 12, 2023

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

“My mother, who is a creative soul who wanted to be a dancer, an actor, a singer, but could not 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 so many immigrant parents — died young.”

‘My manager told me that, “Maybe it will be easier if you were to have an American-sounding name,”’ Ke Huy Quan said in the Oscars press room.

March 13, 2023

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

Also emotional was Quan, who addressed his mother directly while accepting the Oscar for supporting actor.

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


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

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March 12, 2023

Kwan, Wang and Quan elaborated on their gratitude for their parents in the press room adjacent to the Dolby Theatre, where Oscar winners clutch their trophies and take questions from reporters every year.

Kwan spoke about his relationship with his mother, who hails from Taiwan and was in attendance “somewhere running around celebrating.” He recalled how his mom decided to home-school 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. She’s always chasing after new dreams, and she’s always doing a really good job of it,” Kwan said.

“She’s someone who sacrificed a lot for kids. She never actually wanted to be a mother, to be honest. And she’s told me that before because she’s very candid, which is a very Asian thing to do. But I think that actually makes it even more beautiful — knowing how much she gave up for me and my siblings.”

Slap references, some course correction and other must-see moments — including animal attractions — from the 95th Academy Awards.

March 13, 2023

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


“He was a movie buff in the most Taiwanese dad way where he would always get movie titles wrong,” Wang said. “So this movie is very much a love song to our Taiwanese parents.”

In the press room, Quan told reporters that he instantly thought of his mother when presenter Ariana DeBose opened the supporting-actor envelope and read his name.

“The first image that I had in my mind was my mom ... who is the reason why I am in America, who is the reason why I have a better life,” Quan said.

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

For all its representational achievements, the sentimental, self-important ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ is not as bold a choice as it appears.

March 12, 2023

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

“Without them, none of us would be here tonight,” Yeoh said. “[My mom is] 84, and I’m taking this home to her. She’s watching right now 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” within her and teaching her about “love,” “kindness” and “compassion.” (“I’m not very good at that at times,” she quipped.)


“The recent thing that she asked me to do is, ‘Don’t wear pants to the Oscars,’” Yeoh said, laughing.

“What mothers do is they’re constantly reminding 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 will have a better life. And that for them is their ultimate goal.”

Superstar Michelle Yeoh of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” scored an Oscar on her first nomination, becoming the first Asian lead actress to win.

March 12, 2023

Jamie Lee Curtis, a self-proclaimed O.G. nepo baby, choked up as she honored her parents, the late Hollywood legends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, neither of whom ever won an Oscar.

“And 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 onstage 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.

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


Michelle Yeoh makes history as the first Asian actor to win a lead actress award at the Oscars, for her performance in ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once.’

March 12, 2023

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

“She always wanted me to follow my dream even after I graduated from college and came back home to do an internship and I didn’t quite know where I wanted to step next,” 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 that she wanted this for me as much as I wanted it myself.”

Times staff writer Steven Vargas contributed to this report.