Ben Kingsley is lauded as the first Asian winner for Best Actor for his role in “Gandhi” (1982). He went on to receive nominations for “House of Sand and Fog” (2003), “Bugsy” (1991), and “Sexy Beast” (2001).
Born Krishna Pandit Bhanji, Kingsley grew up in Britain to an English mother and an Indian Gujrati father.
It took 38 years for another Asian actor to be nominated for Best Actor, when Riz Ahmed and Steven Yuen clinched the honor at the 2020 Academy Awards.
Riz Ahmed was recognized for his performance as heavy-metal drummer Ruben Stone in “The Sound of Metal” (2019).
Steven Yuen led the critically-acclaimed film “Minari” in 2020 with his nomination for Best Actor. He became the first Asian American nominee to be nominated for the award.
This year marks the most number of Oscar nominations for actors of Asian descent. Michelle Yeoh snagged a Best Actress nomination for her role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
Yeoh already won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role as Evelyn Wang.
Before Michelle Yeoh, the last time an Asian actress was nominated by the Academy for Best Actress was in 1935. Eighty-eight years ago, Merle Oberon was nominated for her role as Kitty Vane in “The Dark Angel.”
Oberon’s Asian heritage was not revealed publicly until 1983, four years after her death.
Sessue Hayakawa, famed Japanese silent film icon, became the first Asian man nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “The Bridge on the River Kwai” in 1957.
Mako Iwamatsu was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1966. He was recognized for his performance as Po-Han in “The Sand Pebbles.”
Iwamatsu was a co-founder of the East West Players theater company, the nation’s largest and longest running Asian American theater company.
Haing S. Ngor was a Cambodian American OB-GYN and actor. In 1984, he became the first and only Asian man to win Best Supporting Actor with his performance in “The Killing Fields.”
For his role as Mr. Miyagi in “The Karate Kid” (1984), Pat Morita was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
In 2003, Ken Watanabe was recognized by the Academy for his role as Lord Katsumoto Moritsugu in “The Last Samurai.”
Following Ben Kingsley, Dev Patel became the second man of Indian descent to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2016 for his performance as Saroo Brierley in “Lion.”
This year, Ke Huy Quan is up for Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
In 1957, Miyoshi Umeki made history as the first Asian woman to be nominated and win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “Sayonara” (1957).
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