With a career lasting six decades, beloved actor James Hong was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Tuesday 10 May at 93 years old—becoming the oldest person in history to be immortalised on the infamous walkway. Hong, who is an Asian American actor of Chinese descent, accepted the fan-funded star to a joyous onslaught of brilliant celebration—the sound of drums and cymbals, as well as the magical moves of Chinese lion dancers, surrounded the event.
In a livestream that was hosted by Variety, the actor was championed by fellow actors and friends Daniel Dae Kim and Jamie Lee Curtis. In fact, it was Kim who nominated the veteran performer for the star—for his dedicated, tireless and brilliant contribution to the cinematic industry. Hong, born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1929, has a whopping 453 film and television credits as well as numerous awards. The actor, who has also had his hand in producing and writing, is best known for his iconic roles in Blade Runner (1982), Kung Fu Panda, Mulan, Rush Hour and Big Trouble in Little China.
Not to mention his appearances in Avatar: the Last Airbender, The Big Bang Theory, Scooby Doo, Charmed and literally hundreds more. All this to say, there’s no doubt Hong deserves his flowers. With a career that spans back to the mid-50s, Hong was a pioneer for Asian Americans in cinema—a fact his nominator Kim highlighted at the event.
“I’m looking at all of you right here, many of you who deserve to be here, as well. In time, I’m confident that it will happen,” Kim said, addressing many of Hong’s Asian American co-stars. “But I’m equally confident in saying that no one will have blazed the trail the way that James Hong has… Today, during the heart of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, it’s only fitting that we honour someone who personifies the term ‘trailblazer’.”
Hong—whose latest acting appearance is in the insanely highly praised 2022 film Everything Everywhere All At Once—humbly accepted the award. “As you can see, I don’t have any speeches, because I’m not that kind of person. I just come here. I want to feel the moment,” Hong said, before joining the lion dancers for a quick boogie.
Actress and friend Curtis, on the other hand, made sure to make known how brilliant of an appearance it was. “The centre of the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once and the centre of James Hong the human is kindness and love,” she said. “And those two qualities in him, and from him, continue their concentric circle of influence and transformative change in people who watch him and who know him—me very much included.”
“It’s about fucking time that we are here honouring James Hong with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” she continued, to which the crowd roared.
This transformative change that Hong has pioneered in the film industry for his fellow Asian American colleagues was a road fraught with struggle and hardships but one that left behind an incredible legacy. Hong is one of only 19 people of Asian descent to be awarded with a star—with other Asian American and Pacific Islanders, like Jason Momoa and Ming-Na Wen, set to receive the honour later this year.
“When I came back from Hong Kong at 9 years old, I was beaten up in the grade school playgrounds because I couldn’t speak English,” Hong recalled. “From that point, I fought all the way to what I’m doing now. So I encourage all Asian Americans, all people of all different nationalities, to express yourself and do your own thing the best you can, and then things will get better as a whole.”