James Hong, one of the most prolific Asian American actors in history, got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday.
Hong, 93, who was joined by celebrity guest speakers Daniel Dae Kim and Jamie Lee Curtis, unveiled his star in a ceremony, becoming one of just 19 people of Asian descent to make it on the walk out of more than 2,700. Hong told the crowd of co-stars and fans that he hoped to soak up the occasion.
“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 he showed off some of his best dance moves.
Hong — who has 700 credits, including “Blade Runner” and Disney’s original “Mulan” — was honored at a ceremony attended by several of his co-stars over the years. Also in attendance were most of the cast of his recent sci-fi comedy, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” in which he plays Gong Gong, the father of the main character, Evelyn. The event also featured a lion dance he arranged himself, in addition to speeches.
Kim, who nominated Hong for a star, spoke about the difficult environment Hong had to persevere through to establish a career as an Asian American man.
“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 honor someone who personifies the term ‘trailblazer.’”
Kim also joked about Hong’s penchant for typing in all caps.
“James, imagine now that the thing I’m about to say next is being typed in all caps, and let’s say it’s bolded and italicized for good measure,” Kim said. “You are truly deserving of the honor you’re about to receive, and you make us all so very, very proud.”
Curtis, who also starred in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” paid tribute to Hong by describing her playful on-set chemistry with him and praising his spirit.
“The center of the movie ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ and the center of James Hong the human is kindness and love,” Curtis 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.”
A handful of other Asian American and Pacific Islanders will also receive stars this year, including Jason Momoa, Ming-Na Wen and apl.de.ap, who is of Filipino descent, as a member of the Black Eyed Peas. Hong got his star after more than 70 years of work in the industry, alongside his constant advocacy for more Asian American representation in Hollywood.
Along with a few other Asian American artists, Hong launched the Asian American theater group East West Players in 1965 with the goal of increasing the visibility of the Asian American experience. Hong, a military veteran who also worked several years as an engineer, has told NBC Asian America that his early experiences prompted his lifelong desire to fight for equity.
“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.”