“May December” actor Charles Melton paid tribute to his Korean immigrant mother at a Critics Choice Association event Monday.
Melton, who took home the award for best breakthrough performance at the CCA’s Celebration of Cinema & Television Honoring Black, Latino & AAPI Achievements, got emotional while thanking his mother, Sukyong Melton, during his acceptance speech.
“I stand today in front of my mother. I’m proud of my Korean American heritage. Umma, umma,” a tearful Melton said, addressing her in Korean. “You are my hero.”
The 32-year-old has spoken about his admiration for his mother in the past. He told “Good Morning America” that she immigrated to the United States in 1990 after marrying his father, Phil Melton, who was in the military.
“She doesn’t have her driver’s license, she has no friends in America, and then my dad finds out he’s getting orders to go to the Gulf War in ‘91,” he told the outlet. “I can’t imagine being a woman and coming from a different country to being pregnant with a baby, with me.”
He added that his mother ended up spending a year with her in-laws, whom she hadn’t previously met, while his father was at war, “not knowing if he’s going to come back.”
“That takes a lot and my mom did that,” he said.
Melton’s CCA accolade comes after critical acclaim he’s received for his performance in the newly released Netflix drama, in which he plays Joe, a 36-year-old father married to an older woman, Gracie, played by Julianne Moore. While the pair has attempted to move forward from their once tabloid-ridden relationship, television actor Elizabeth, played by Natalie Portman, digs into their past and brings disturbing power dynamics to the surface.
Already, Melton took home the award for outstanding supporting performance at the Gotham Awards in New York City last week. And he’s expected to draw more buzz for the role throughout awards season.