Oscar Nominations Diversity: Asian Actors on the Rise, Black Lead Actresses Shut Out

If there’s been a theme for Stephanie Hsu’s awards season experience so far, it’s been this: “Getting texts at random hours that signify news that might be breaking,” she told TheWrap, laughing.

The morning the Oscar nominations were announced was no exception. Hsu had just landed in Los Angeles from Sydney, semi-awake, when her phone from her starting its telltale buzzing and in flooded all the congratulations for her Best Supporting Actress nomination, for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

She had barely left the airport when she called us from a car, so she hadn’t yet processed the fact that this year marks the first time that four actors of Asian descent were nominated in the acting categories. “woah,” she said. “I just remember being a kid and Halle Berry won (Best Actress, in 2022). … And I think about how, at that moment, a seed was planted in me of what is possible. I feel really excited that this season, that these nods are planting seeds for people… to know that more space is opening up for them.”

Hsu had lots more to say about representation—as well as crying while watching “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and of course, what time is the appropriate time to start drinking champagne.

You were in the plane still when the nominations were announced, so you didn’t get to watch them? No. I probably wouldn’t have, you know? I knew that the announcements were happening today. And I was flying back from Sydney. I woke up just right before it was happening. I put my phone on the little tray next to my coffee and then it just started going zoing zoing.(laughs)

Four actors of Asian descent have been nominated in the acting categories, which is a record.

Does that make the nomination feel even more significant?
I mean, yes. It is an uphill battle. I feel like Cate Blanchett and Todd Field have been very open about how we need to find different systems to validate art and not measure it on a best or worst scale. But in the meantime, there are so many people who have been overlooked for so long. I just remember being a kid and Halle Berry won (Best Actress, in 2022). And I didn’t even realize that in all of 94 years of the Academy Awards, that only one woman of color has ever won (Best Actress), and it was Halle Berry. But that’s a big deal. And I think about how, at that moment, a seed was planted in me of what is possible. And I feel really excited that this season, that these nods are planting seeds for people who are younger who are watching or even older people who are watching who maybe let this career slip by and now know that more space is opening up for them.

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But outside of identity, what I am most proud of is that our movie that is completely a labor of love and scrappy, that so many people didn’t think would be possible — for us to be able to be held by our community, the love and nods—that’s huge. We worked so hard. I watched the movie at the first part of my flight on the way back to the States because I wanted to do a little ritual for myself of: no matter what happens, I just wanted to witness that very small moment in time when this very intimate thing was made, before everything got so shiny. I immediately felt like a super fan of our own movie. I was just sobbing within the first two minutes. (laughs)

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Have you talked to the Daniels (directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) or your castmates?
We’re all on a text thread, sending lots of texts. The Daniels and our producer Jonathan (Wang), they were FaceTiming and watching it together this morning. So there’s definitely a lot of love. I texted Shirley (Kurata, the costume designer, who was also nominated) the moment I found out. Everyone is just beside themselves because every single person — every single person — is a first-time nominee.

How are you going to celebrate?
I think I’m gonna take a long walk. My phone is basically just, like, shaking. It’s gone past vibrating, it’s just in a constant state of shaking, even as we talk. So I think I want a moment to just really receive and drop down and sit in gratitude — or walk in gratitude. Because we worked really hard and I gave a lot of myself to this movie, so it really means a lot.

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Well, I don’t want to keep you from your walk. It’s still super early for you, so I hope champagne comes later. Or maybe during the walk.
Yeah, that’s a good idea. Maybe it comes at 9 am Who knows?

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