Greeted to a standing ovation at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, James Hong could have easily enjoyed the applause and moved on. But for the 94-year-old, the mostly Asian cast of «Everything Everywhere All at Once» that won the best cast award seemed like a challenge. opportunity for a clear reminder that Hollywood wasn’t always so open.

“It occurred to me that after all these years of working with producers and directors, they always said, ‘Oh, the Asians, the Chinese, they’re not good enough to play the lead,’” Hong told The Associated Press. . “But look at Michelle (Yeoh) and all these colleagues now coming forward to be recognized… You can’t help but say ‘Look at us now.’”

The last year has been a wild ride for Hong. He finally received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Soon after, «Everything Everywhere All at Once» and the overwhelming response propelled the actor to every major awards event. came to see the movie pick up seven Oscarsincluding a best historical actress victory for Yeoh.

Viewers will soon be able to hear Hong in «Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai,» an animated prequel series to the film franchise airing on Max. She also appears in an episode of the new Disney+ show, «Chinese Born American,» and is a producer on the upcoming film «Patsy Lee and the Keepers of the 5 Kingdoms.»

“Gremlins” showrunner Tze Chun is one of several Asian-American filmmakers who were emotional to see Hong celebrated. Melvin Mar, one of the producers of «American Born Chinese,» broke down in tears when he spoke to him just before the Walk of Fame ceremony.

“That guy is a legend beyond legend,” said Mar. “He was so funny and fast and it was a joy to have him on set. Just the sweetest boy.»

Gene Luen Yang, author of the graphic novel «American Born Chinese» and also a producer on the show, says Hong’s life epitomizes Asian American history.

“Her journey in Hollywood really is symbolic of us as Asian Americans. The kind of roles that he was offered in the beginning and that he now has his own Hollywood star, shows the kind of progress we have made,” Yang said.