Golden Globes

Asian actors win big at 81st Golden Globes

Nimfa Rueda

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Asian actors win big at 81st Golden Globes

BEST ACTRESS. Ali Wong in a still from 'Beef.' Netflix

Screenshot from trailer

Ali Wong, Steven Yeun, Michelle Yeoh, Darren Criss, and many other Asian talents highlight the importance of representation in Hollywood

LOS ANGELES, USA – Ali Wong made history as the first Asian American to win best actress in a limited series for her role in the Netflix series Beef at the 81st Golden Globes on Sunday, January 7 (Monday, January 8 in the Philippines).

Wong’s Beef co-star Steven Yeun took home best actor in a limited series, becoming the second actor of Asian descent to win in this category. 

Beef, a road rage drama, also made history by becoming the first show created by and starring Asian Americans to win in its category. It won best limited series, anthology series, or a motion picture made for television. 

“Our show is actually based on a real road rage incident that actually happened to me, so I’d be remiss not to thank that driver,” creator Lee Sung Jin joked when he accepted the Golden Globe for best television limited series. “Sir, I hope you honk and yell and inspire others for years to come.”

The show is about a road rage incident between two strangers – a failing contractor, played by Yeun, and an unfulfilled entrepreneur, played by Wong. Their encounter sparks a feud that brings out their darkest impulses.

“I really need to thank Sung Jin so much for creating such a beautiful show and inviting me to be part of it,” said Wong in her acceptance speech.

She also thanked her ex-husband, Justin Hakuta.

“I really need to thank the father of my children and my best friend, Justin, for all of your love and support,” she said. “It’s because of you that I’m able to be a working mother.”

Yeun, who won as best actor in a limited series, thanked his wife Joana Park and his children, and the cast and crew of “Beef.” 

“I’m just the recipient of a long line of compassion and love and protection and goodwill,” he said.

Big win for Asian representation

Michelle Yeoh, who was one of the presenters at the annual event, hailed the recognition as a big win for Asian representation.

“I hope to see more Asian Americans finally having their moment in Hollywood,” Yeoh told Rappler.

Yeoh also made history last year for becoming the first Asian to win best actress in the Academy Awards for her role as Evelyn Quan Wang in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Her Everything Everywhere All at Once co-star Ke Huy Quan won the Golden Globe for best supporting actor in a movie for his role as laundromat owner Waymond Wang, becoming the first actor of Asian descent in nearly 40 years to win in this category.

Filipino American actor Darren Criss was the first actor of Asian descent to win a Globe for a limited series lead with his high-powered performance in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

Criss was also the first Fil-Am to win a Globe acting award.

Yoko Shimada’s win for best actress in a drama series for her role as Mariko in the TV miniseries Shōgun at the 1981 Golden Globes made her the first Asian actress to win in television.

In addition to Criss, other Fil-Ams who have won a Globe include Robert Lopez, best song for Frozen II (2020), Coco (2018), and Frozen (2014); Hailee Steinfeld, best actress – motion picture – musical/comedy for The Edge of Seventeen (2017); and Lou Diamond Phillips, best supporting actor – motion picture for Stand and Deliver (1989).

Steinfeld was one of the presenters on Sunday. She was stunning in a custom pink Prada gown and black gloves reminiscent of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Renowned Fil-Am actor and comedian Jo Koy also hosted the annual event, the first Filipino American to do so.

His televised presence on the Globes stage marks the second Asian host in Globes history, following Sandra Oh.

Notably, however, netizens criticized Koy’s jokes especially during his opening monologue, leading him to be the top trending topic on X (formerly Twitter) in the Philippines.

Pinoy and Asian pride

Nonetheless, Koy’s history-making stint was still a point of pride among Filipinos present at the awards ceremony.

“For me, Jo Koy presiding over the Golden Globes, one of Hollywood’s biggest nights, was more than enough reason for Pinoy and Asian pride,” said Ruben Nepales, the first Filipino voter in Golden Globes’ history, and an award-winning Rappler entertainment columnist.

“I felt very proud and grateful that Jo Koy opened yet another door for people of color in Hollywood. I thank the Globes for picking Jo Koy as this year’s host.”

Nepales served as chair of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which produced the Golden Globes for more than 80 years before the new owners took over this year.

He said that to hear the actor-comedian proclaim, “I am Filipino!” in the show was a surprise bonus. 

“How often do we get a chance to hear a performer declare that in a major awards show?” he asked. “It was indeed a night of Asian representation.”

Jo Koy told reporters on the red carpet that he was proud to represent Filipino culture and heritage.

“I’m happy that Jo Koy finally had his dream of hosting a major awards show come true,” said Ruben’s wife, Janet, also a Golden Globes voter and former HFPA officer. “On the red carpet, he was so excited to share his love with his kababayans who were calling out to him, “Josep!!!”

Janet donned a modern terno while Ruben wore a barong on the red carpet to honor the heritage they share with Jo Koy.

She said many Golden Globes attendees, from the red carpet to Universal’s after-party, complimented their Filipiniana-inspired clothes designed by Oliver Tolentino.

Nepales added she was proud that Beef was recognized and awarded “for its good acting and writing.”

“It was a proud moment for us to see all these Asians break barriers and make history at the 81st Golden Globes,” she said. –

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