When Michelle Yeoh won the Oscar for best actress on Sunday night, she simultaneously made history.
The Malaysian-born actor became the first Asian woman to win an Oscar for best actress for her multifaceted performance in the multiversal “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
“Thank you for all the little boys and girls who look like me tonight,” she said. “This is proof that dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re past your prime.”
Nearly 90 years ago, a white actor named Luise Rainer won the same award for playing a Chinese villager with “yellowface” in “The Good Earth.”
Yeoh was the first nominee in the category to identify as Asian. Birth records indicate that Merle Oberon concealed her South Asian heritage when she was nominated for an Oscar for “The Dark Angel” in 1935 but was not selected.
Yeoh beat down past Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (“Tár”), as well as Michelle Williams (“The Fabelmans”), Ana de Armas (“Blonde”) and Andrea Riseborough (“To Leslie”).
In addition, those who were not nominated were mentioned in the category: They were left out of a year filled with strong performances from Black women like Viola Davis (“The Woman King”) and Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”). In the meantime, some individuals criticized A-list celebrities’ grassroots social media campaigning for Riseborough.
Yeoh appeared to be a lock after winning almost every award, including the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award, for her nuanced performance as Evelyn, an immigrant Chinese wife, mother, and laundromat operator who was about to be audited for her taxes.
Out of 11 nominations, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” won seven Oscars, including best picture, best director, best editing, best original screenplay, and awards for Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis as best supporting actors.
Yeoh started her career in kung fu cinema world, but she became famous in 1992 for playing Jackie Chan’s co-star in “Supercop.” With hits like “Tomorrow Never Dies” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” American audiences got to know her even better.
Yeoh described “Everything Everywhere” as “an independent film on steroids” when she first read the script. The chance to give unheard immigrant mothers and grandmothers a voice ultimately swayed her. The multiverse movie also showcased a wide range of genres, including fantasy, drama, comedy, and science fiction.
Since her memorable role as a controlling matriarch in “Crazy Rich Asians,” Yeoh, now 60, is in high demand. From that point, she has done everything from a “Star Trip” side project to Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”
The Disney+ series “American Born Chinese” will air Yeoh later this year. She is likewise getting ready to rejoin “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu for the screen adaptation of the musical “Wicked.”Topics #Michelle Yeoh #Oscars #Oscars 2023