Michelle Yeoh is not new to the big screen. While for many around the world she has only recently become a household name, this has not been the case everywhere. The 60-year-old Malaysian actress has been acting, and performing her own stunts, in films since the mid-1980s. In fact, she is a great star of Hong Kong cinema, making her well known throughout Asia for many years.
It did not take Yeoh long to find her way to Hollywood. She has stared in films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Memoirs of a Geisha; Crazy Rich Asians; and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Yet, it was not until her lead role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, that she received the recognition she deserves in the United States. The 2022 hit has elevated Yeoh to become one of the most recognized actresses of the year. She has not only been named “Icon of the Year” by Time, but she has also been placed number one on “The 10 Best Actors of the Year” list by the New York Times.
Further, Everything Everywhere All at Once and Yeoh will be in the running for the up coming Academy Awards, including the award for Best Actress. If Yeoh were to win Best Actress, this would not only be a huge win for her, but would mean so much more, as no Asian woman has ever won the award for Best Actress.
The Asian community has long been underrepresented in Hollywood, often only being cast in stereotypical roles. Yeoh has long fought this, turning down many roles that would perpetuate these stereotypes. Therefore, such a win would hold great meaning for Asian communities around the world, as Yeoh herself is now playing a key role in seeing this long fought for recognition and change come to fruition.
There is no doubt Yeoh will continue to enchant her audiences in upcoming projects such as Avatar: The Way of Water; The Witcher; and Wicked while continuing to represent the Asian community, inspiring people around the world.
Travis Cole is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington DC. Obtaining his BA from Sichuan University, he is now a second-year graduate student at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School, studying International Development and Diplomacy.