After starring in 200 movies and fracturing countless bones, Jackie Chan finally won an Honorary Oscar on Nov. 12 with Anne V. Coates, Frederick Wiseman, and Lynn Stalmaster. Starting at the age of 8 with “Big and Little Wong Tin Bear,” Chan has worked in the film industry for 56 years as an actor, producer, and director. He is most famous for his movie “Drunken Master” and “Rush Hour.”
After 23 years of fancying the award, Chan was able to receive the Oscar, bringing a great significance to the diversity of the Oscars awards. First held in 1929, Academy Awards has given the best actors and actresses in Hollywood through a vote by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) members. The awards and the organization itself have recently faced heavy public criticism its homogeneity in their choices. Since then, the Academy Awards has made improvements to bringing diversity. However, the boycott of the award from last year’s nominees, including Spike Lee, has sparked further controversy on its ethnic diversity.
“Before Chan was in Hollywood, people would use Asian actors as extras or extremely minor roles and Jackie Chan, in my opinion, is the turning point of this. Especially after he was sought by Hollywood directors personally to star in their films, the industry started hiring more Asian actors into their films,” said Ian Choi (10). “Now it’s almost a norm to hire Asian actors in these Hollywood blockbuster films and Jackie Chan was one of the primary motivations for that. Major films like ‘Rogue One’ starring Donnie Yen and reboot of ‘Magnificent Seven’ with Lee Byung-hun are examples of Asian actors in these films.”
Chan’s life story is the epitome of a rags-to-riches tale: though he was born into a modest family, he soon rose to Hollywood stardom through martial arts. The people who praise his “pure talent” fail to realize that much of his abilities actually come from hard work and effort behind these scenes. According to The New York Times, Chan has created his own style of martial arts, Zui Quan, after studying marital arts and acrobatics for ten years.
“Starting from small, extra roles, I think he is a representation of what grit and perseverance can do,” said Ian. “He shows the people of Hollywood, the people that watch his movies, and especially Asian actors in Hollywood that it doesn’t matter what you were when you began. It’s what you become that matters.”
Jackie Chan’s ability to blend comedy and martial arts togehterhas inspired many current Hollywood actors. According to The New York Times, Jackie Chan has not only changed Hollywood’s perception towards martial arts but has also opened doors for martial arts actors such as Jet Li, starred in “Rumble in Bronx”.
Chan’s work in the film industry has brought great influence to today’s society, inspiring many people involved with the media, or Hollywood itself. He shed light on a new, unprecedented genre that was not often explored in Hollywood in previous years.
“He’s been recognized for work that is really comedy and that’s not something that they generally give for Oscars. I think it’s good that a genre that people thought of as being trivial is being recognized,” said John Arthars, teacher of the drama department. “Only time will tell if Hollywood will go against the ultra-conservative environment and bring diversity. We’ll have to wait and see.”