During the Sunday (26 February) night ceremony, Hong accompanied his Everything Everywhere cast onstage to accept the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Find the full list of 2023 SAG Award winners here.
Michelle Yeoh introduced Hong on stage, saying: “There is one of us that has been supporting ensembles for longer than any of us has been alive.”
Holding Hong’s hand, she continued: “He’s been acting since there were only forty-nine states and he just turned 94 years young!
“And it’s been 69 years in the making to get him to this stage. Our patriach, our friend, our Gong Gong, James Hong.”
As the audience gave him a standing ovation, Hong addressed them in Cantonese, with Yeoh jumping in to translate him, saying: “Friends, relatives... so happy that you are all here tonight.”
“Actually, I said that because we might be broadcast in Hong Kong,” he explained. “Who knows, right?”
Hong then went on to recount his experience as an Asian-American actor in Hollywood.
“My first movie was with Clark Gable,” he said, referring to the 1955 adventure romance Soldier of Fortune.
“But back in those days – I have to tell you this,” Hong continued.
“The leading role was played by these guys with their eyes taped up like this and they talk like this,” he said pulling the corner of his eyes up with his fingers and mimicking an overdramatic Chinese accent.
“And the producer said the Asians were not good enough and they are not box office. But look at us now, huh?!”
Again, the crowd rose to their feet, loudly cheering him on.
“Actually, we are not all Chinese, but Jamie Lee – ‘Lee’ is a good Chinese name,” Hong joked, pointing at Curtis, who returned his gesture with a thumbs up.
“In fact, that’s my mother’s [name], Lee Shui Fa,” he added. “And so, you know, I feel very akin to her. And I’ve never had such a good time as being with these jerks in this movie.”
Concluding, Hong quipped: “That’s all I’m going to say because otherwise, we’ll be kicked off the stage. But if they try, I will quote what Michelle said, ‘Shut up. I can beat you up.’”
Hong’s speech was an immediate hit with fans on Twitter.
Seeing an Asian American actor who went through all those awful times of needing to endure all those hurdles, and getting onstage to make such a passionate beautiful speech, few days after his 94th birthday. James Hong. We all love you. You’re a fucking hero. pic.twitter.com/3IUKbfWjgo
— Reel and Roll Films - 🙏 Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar 🙏 (@reelandroll) February 27, 2023
“I truly cannot stop watching the James Hong SAG speech. What a way to end the show. The best moment of award season so far,” one wrote.
Calling Hong a “legend”, a second tweeted: “THIS is an acceptance speech.”
Crazy Rich Asian’s Ken Jeong joined in, writing: “Give it up for the titan that is James Hong!”
An awesome moment where his fellow cast-mates honored him, and deservedly so. Give it up for the titan that is James Hong! #SAGAwards2023 #EverythingEverywhereAllAtOnce #JamesHong
— Ken Jeong (@kenjeong) February 27, 2023
Jeong’s sentiment was seconded by Comedian Margaret Cho, who simply wrote: “James Hong. That’s the tweet.”
“Seeing an Asian American actor who went through all those awful times of needing to endure all those hurdles, and getting onstage to make such a passionate beautiful speech, few days after his 94th birthday,” someone commented. “James Hong. We all love you. You’re a f***ing hero.”
bro. James Hong's speech for @allatoncemovie #SAGAwards Best ensemble was the realest ever
he was like i'm 94 years old let me tell you about Acting in Hollywood LMAOOOOOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/VwiCdxqhAG
— Jenny Yang (@jennyyangtv) February 27, 2023
Comedian Jenny Yang said: “Bro. James Hong's speech for @allatoncemovie #SAGAwards Best ensemble was the realest ever.”
In a subsequent tweet, she added: “94 years young out here roasting Hollywood and being Asian as hell lmaoooo.”