For the first time in its 95-year history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role to a self-identified Asian actress. Michelle Yeoh has accepted the Oscar for her role in… All everywhere at oncein which she plays Evelyn Wang, a first-generation Chinese immigrant who owns a laundry in which the absurd multiverse of the film revolves.
The “Asian-identified” caveat is needed because two actresses — nominee Merle Oberon and two-time Oscar winner Vivien Leigh — have hidden their Asian ancestry and chosen to be white. Previous winners of West Asian descent – Cher (Armenian), Salma Hayek (Lebanese) and Natalie Portman (Israeli) – have not been identified as Asian.
Yoh received a standing ovation as he walked to the podium to collect his award.
Waving the Oscar statuette, she said: “To all the little boys and girls watching me tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibility.
“Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you you’re late for your birthday.”
She dedicated her victory to her mother, who called her a “superhero”.
Malaysian-born Yeoh became a Hong Kong movie star before gaining global attention in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, Tomorrow Never Dies AND Crazy Rich Asians. This was his first Oscar nomination.
Talking with All things consideredAlyssa Chang Yeoh said last April that she witnessed a cultural moment where Asians could finally find a bigger voice in Hollywood and society.
“We just have to rock the boat and say, ‘Look at us,’” he said. “Give us a chance, because guess what? We exist in your community. We are part of society and a very, very complicated part of this whole community. This is the only way we will stand a better chance, if we fight for and I won’t be able to say, well, I’ll turn the other cheek. Damn it, don’t turn the other cheek again.”
Before tonight’s concert, Yeoh got some work done All everywhere at once He has received numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe, an Independent Spirit Award, multiple Domestic Film Critics Awards, a SAG Award, and nominations for a Critics’ Choice Award and a BAFTA Award.