As Ke Huy Quan told the Guardian, growing up in America presented him with “major identity issues,” which often left him feeling conflicted between struggling to stay true to his journey and adjusting to American culture. “We were refugees,” he said, “nobody wanted us… They called us ‘fresh off the boat’. They made fun of us when we were at school. You can imagine what that does to a kid’s mental state.”
Pressure to conform contributed to his decision to temporarily change his name to Jonathan Ke Quan. He explained, “I wanted to assimilate … I used to do a sitcom and before each taping everyone’s names were announced. They fought my name every week.” In 1986, Quan was cast in Together We Stand, a CBS sitcom about a married couple with many adopted children from different cultures. In 1989, Quan joined the cast of ABC’s “Head of the Class,” a coming-of-age sitcom about gifted high school students — he was then credited as Jonathan Ke Quan (per IMDb).
At 23, Quan enrolled at the University of Southern California and, tired of competing for tiny roles built solely on Asian stereotypes, tried to find other ways to work in Hollywood. It wasn’t until 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians that Quan felt inspired to return to the business he loved — the first script he read when signing with a new agent was Everything Everywhere All At Once. While it’s odious that he had to wait until the 2020s for a career he earned in the 1980s, it’s promising that his future projects include the star-studded feature film The Electric State by the Russo Brothers and the second season of Disney+’s “Loki”. “