Stephanie Hsu on why her Oscar nomination is a ‘beautiful’ moment for the queer community

Stephanie Hsu as Joy/Jobu in Everything Everywhere All At Once.jpg

Everything Everywhere All at Once star Stephanie Hsu has opened up about her “powerful” Oscar nomination and working with Michelle Yeoh.

Hsu received her first Oscar nomination for her portrayal of lesbian Joy Wang and her destructive, universe-swapping alter ego, Jobu Tupaki, in the absurdist comedy.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly Hsu, 32, explained why the nomination feels “so beautiful,” particularly right now.

“It represents the younger generation, the people who are waiting in the wings, the people who see themselves in Joy or Jobu or both, the queer community. I feel really grateful to be able to be the person who’s ushering in that wave of people alongside me,” she said.

“Every opportunity is a new responsibility or an opportunity to bring 10 other people along with me.

“When you are marginalised in any way, you recognise the importance every single time, and I want to continue to carry that weight, but I’ve also been trying to practice letting myself just enjoy it.”

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Hsu shared a story about her mother going to watch the film at its Los Angeles premiere last year, and how when her character, Joy, on screen, her mum cried and simply said: “It’s me.”

Hsu added: “I realised that that was the first time my mom had ever seen herself on the screen. And that, to me, is so powerful.”

While her friend and co-star Yeoh became the first Asian actress to be up for the best actress award in more than 85 years (Merle Oberon had that honour but did not acknowledge her biracial heritage and “passed for white”), Hsu worries that she, herself, will experience barriers in her career. Indeed, she already has.

“I have felt all sorts of walls go up, and that has given me more fire in my belly to feel like there’s so much work to be done. I’m not gonna sit back silent,” she said, explaining how she is not immune to Hollywood’s obstacles, despite the success of Everything Everywhere All at Once.

“I’m not gonna let you push me aside. I am going to bring this flood of other people, who are waiting behind the gates, through.”

Hsu’s storyline in the hit film revolves around her relationship with her mother, Evelyn, played by Yeoh.

Michelle Yeoh wearing a pink and black dress, smiling and stood next Stephanie Hsu, wearing an orange dress, at the Critics Choice Awards.
Stephanie Hsu signed up to Everything Everywhere All at Once for one reason: Michelle Yeoh. (Getty/Kevin Winter)

While Hsu was bowled over by how the script represented an immigrant family, it was the chance to work with the Crazy Rich Asians star that made her certain she wanted to be involved.

“We all signed on because Michelle is Michelle. She completely surrendered to the process without any ego,” Hsu said.

“Before I even read the script, before [creators Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert] told me Michelle would play my mom, before they told me [film company] A24 was attached, I was like, ‘Whatever you guys are doing, I’m gonna do it’.”

Everything Everywhere All at Once is up for 11 Oscars, including the coveted best picture award. Hsu will battle it out with co-star Jamie Lee Curtis for the best supporting actress gong.

The 2023 Oscars airs on Monday 13 March.