Last Sunday was a momentous evening in Hollywood for Asian Americans and Asians. When I was a teenager, I used to tell my friends "I'm going to the Kodak Theatre!" That's what the Dolby Theatre used to be called. Knowing how rare that opportunity would be for someone like me, that seemed like a near unreachable dream. But if you don't dream big, then you won't get anywhere. So, as "Everything Everywhere All At Once" kept racking up awards, and especially when Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Actor, followed by Michelle Yeoh winning Best Actress, and finally the biggest award of the night going to the movie, it was simply put...everything. That being said, I also hope that Hollywood doesn't look back on this night and think, okay we're diverse. We gave a bunch of the most prestigious awards in filmmaking to a bunch of Asians. Let's move on to the next underrepresented group. We really have to do better. Think about this...
When Michelle Yeoh said, "this is a beacon of hope," I thought...this can't just be a beacon of hope. This has to be something that is more than hope. The fact that Halle Berry was the first woman of color ever to win Best Actress at the Academy Awards in 2002, and then it took twenty-one years for another woman of color to win the award says a lot more about our progress than all of EEAO's wins throughout the entire awards season this year. On top of that, and not that Jamie Lee Curtis wasn't brilliant in her role, but Stephanie Hsu was also brilliant. Stephanie Hsu was beyond brilliant. Why Stephanie didn't seem to get as much recognition as Jamie Lee Curtis...well, I have a lot of thoughts about that, but I'll save that for a different blog.
My point here is that while we have made so many strides in diversity and achievement, it sometimes feels like we are so slowly inching our way towards a broader spectrum of stories and talent being recognized as "award-worthy" in Hollywood, especially those of underrepresented groups in Hollywood, that Michelle is right. For now, her win remains a "beacon of hope."
But maybe this is the turning point...I am so, so proud of everyone behind EEAO. This is now, hands down, my absolute favorite film ever. It's the kind of story that as a writer, you dream of being able to execute. And the recognition that both Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh gained through this film feels like, "Finally. Thank you for seeing us." And Michelle has said in past interviews that she was grateful for this role, because finally she could show off all that she's capable of. She was so grateful that she was allowed to be more than the epic martial artist actress that she is. That is something that I think is so relatable for so many of us. Especially as an Asian American, we just want to be seen for all we are and not the stereotypes or the roles you want us to fit into.