Stephanie Hsu Hopes Breakthrough Indie Spirit Award Will “Protect That Freak Flag”

Stephanie Hsu has won the prize for best breakthrough performance at the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards, honoring the best of the year in indie filmmaking.

In her speech, she said, through tears, “I came from the world of downtown experimental theater, and it is one of my biggest [sources of pride] to be from that community, knowing how to make something out of nothing. This is my first-ever individual award, and it feels incredibly appropriate that it is in this room. … I want to thank A24 for keeping independent films hot and alive.” She added, “One of my favorite moments on-set was when we were doing one of the last scenes in the movie, where the family is running up to the bagel and were in a huge atrium and there’s papers flying all over… Every single crewmember and every single castmember would just get on their knees and pick every single piece of paper up to help set up for the next shot so we had time to play.”

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She concluded: “I hope I get to take this today less as an award, as a symbol of winning, but I hope that this can protect me in this moment of breaking through, that it can act as a talisman to protect that freak flag, that desire to help make and to offer stories that help us grow as a society and community in the best way that we don’t know how.”

Hsu won for the Daniels’ (Kwan and Scheinert, directors) film Everything Everywhere All At Once, also nominated for best feature, lead performance for Michelle Yeoh and supporting for Jamie Lee Curtis and Ke Huy Quan, as well as for directing, screenplay and editing.

EEAAO is Hsu’s true break-out film performance — prior to this movie, she was known for her work on Broadway in musicals like The SpongeBob Musical and Be More Chill. She had a recurring role on Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, for which she was a co-winner of the 2020 SAG ensemble award for television comedies. She appears in the Natasha Lyonne-Rian Johnson mystery series Poker Face on Peacock and will be reunited with her EEAAO co-star Ke Huy Quan in Disney’s upcoming show American Born Chinese. 

Check out the star-studded red carpet arrivals at the 2023 Spirit Awards.

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