Michelle Yeoh Is Oscars’ First Asian Best Actress Winner: “This is a Beacon of Hope and Possibilities”

Mar 13, 2023
Dimitris Passas

NOTE: This article is a republication- Source: The Hollywood Reporter (by Rebecca Sun).

In a four-decade career already marked by trailblazing and unprecedented achievement for female performers, Michelle Yeoh just notched a big one: becoming the first Asian woman to win the Academy Award for best actress.

Yeoh’s Oscar-winning performance in A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once was the first time the Malaysia-born actress had been No. 1 on a Hollywood call sheet, playing a struggling laundromat owner and lifelong loser who finds herself the savior of the multiverse (and learns to reconcile with her long-suffering husband and estranged daughter in the process).

“Ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are past your prime,” said Yeoh, who at 60 was the oldest nominee in her category. “For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities.”

With her win, Yeoh becomes the first woman of full Asian descent to earn best actress in Oscars history. Just over two decades ago, Halle Berry broke the color barrier with her win for Monster’s Ball in 2002. And Berry was a part of the Oscars moment, as she joined 2022 best actress winner Jessica Chastain to present the award to Yeoh (2022’s best actor winner Will Smith has been banned from attending Academy events for 10 years).

In the other 93 years, the Academy Award went to a white woman or one who passed for white, including Luise Rainer, who won her second straight best actress Oscar at the 10th ceremony in 1938 for playing the Chinese character of O-Lan in The Good Earth. Past winners Vivien Leigh, Cher and Natalie Portman have ties to Western Asian heritage, but none considered or considers themselves to be Asian.

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