Oscar Winner Ke Huy Quan 'Spent A Year In A Refugee Camp' & Had An Emotional Tribute To His Mom

"My journey started on a boat."

Global Staff Writer
Ke Huy Quan during his Oscars acceptance speech.

Ke Huy Quan during his Oscars acceptance speech.


The 2023 Oscars on Sunday night had major highlight moments, from killer red-carpet outfits to meme-worthy moments during the show, but the best part of the 95th Academy Awards was the emotional acceptance speeches.

One acceptance speech at the 2023 Academy Awards in particular had people in tears, and it was the one presented by actor Ke Huy Quan.

The Everything Everywhere All At Onceactor won the award for Best Supporting Actor for the hit movie, and in his speech he talked about his life journey, which included a brief period of living in a refugee camp.

Quan started his speech by saying, “My mom is 84 years old, and she's at home watching. Mom, I just won an Oscar!” which is already enough to send most people to tears.

Quan then went on to share his experience as a refugee, which only added to the waterworks.

“My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp, and somehow I ended up here on Hollywood's biggest stage,” Quan said during his speech.

“They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it's happening to me. This, this is the American dream!”

The audience erupted into applause and cheered on the emotional actor.

Quan moved from Vietnam to Hong Kong at 7-years-old and lived in a refugee camp before moving to the U.S. in 1979.

The actor described the experience as “traumatic” and recalled the memories from his childhood during an interview with The Guardian.

“We were refugees. Nobody wanted us... They would call us ‘fresh off the boat.’ They would make fun of us when we were in school. You can imagine what that does to the mental state of a child,” Quan said during his interview.

Not too long after immigrating to the U.S., Quan landed a role in the popular movie The Goonies in 1985 and then four years later a role in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989, commencing his child acting career.

“To go from that to starring in one of the biggest movies in 1984 gave me and my family hope, courage and a lot of freedom,” Quan told The Guardian.

His career as a child actor was short-lived, and soon he fell off the radar when it came to acting, only to make a comeback in 2022 with his hit film Everything Everywhere All At Once, which has earned him not only an Oscar but also a Golden Globe.

During his acceptance speech on Sunday, Quan thanked his mom for the “sacrifices” she made before giving a shout-out to the “love of [his] life,” his wife Echo Quan.

“Who, month after month, year after year for 20 years, told me that one day, one day, my time will come. Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you out there, please keep your dreams alive.”

That wasn't the only emotional moment for Quan at the awards ceremony.

His film also won the Oscar for Best Picture, and that's when he got to reunite with his Indiana Jones co-star on the stage.

Harrison Ford presented the award to Quan and Quan was not only emotional, but also gave Ford a big hug and kiss on stage.

Quan had an incredible night at the Academy Awards, and his happiness and emotion could be felt by many watching the show.

Sameen Chaudhry
Global Staff Writer
Sameen Chaudhry is a Staff Writer for Narcity’s Global Desk focused on TikTok drama and is based in Toronto, Ontario.
Recommended For You