A big woman in Hollywood : Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh, a 60-year-old Malaysian actor, has received critical acclaim for her lead role in "Everything Everywhere All at Once" and has already won a Golden Globe and a SAG award for the performance. Yeoh has also been nominated for an Oscar, becoming the first Asian-identifying actor to receive a nomination for best actress. Her performance has made her a role model to people of color, Asians, and women, particularly those of a "certain age." She had a diverse acting career, portraying geishas, Nobel laureates, and even metaverse surfers. Yeoh has used her platform to champion representation and diversity.
Michelle Yeoh, a 60-year-old Malaysian actor, has received critical acclaim for her lead role in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and has already won a Golden Globe and a SAG award for the performance. She has become the first Asian winner of a SAG award and second Asian winner of a Golden Globe for best actress. Yeoh has also been nominated for an Oscar, becoming the first Asian-identifying actor to receive a nomination for best actress. Her performance has made her a role model to people of color, Asians, and women, particularly those of a “certain age.” In the film, Yeoh plays a harried immigrant wife and mother who discovers that there are multiple versions of the universe and herself, and they are all facing a threat that only her current avatar can stop.
Michelle had never planned on becoming an actor. Growing up in Malaysia, her dream was to become a ballerina, and she had enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dance in London until a back injury ended her aspirations. However, in 1983, her mother entered her into the Miss Malaysia/World pageant without her knowledge, which she went on to win. This led to appearances in Hong Kong commercials, including a Guy Laroche watch ad with Jackie Chan. She was soon offered film roles and rose to fame in the 1980s with her performances in Hong Kong action and martial arts films, such as “Yes, Madam!” (1985), “Police Story 3: Supercop” (1992), and “Holy Weapon” (1993), where she performed her own stunts.During a time when diversity and representation were not emphasized, Michelle Yeoh worked under the stage name Michelle Khan. This was a choice made by the film production company D&B Films, who believed that the name “Khan” would appeal more to international and Western audiences. However, she eventually went back to using her own name.
She briefly retired from acting in 1987 after marrying Hong Kong businessman Dickson Poon, co-founder of D&B Films, but resumed her career after they separated in 1992. In 1997, she got her Hollywood break in “Tomorrow Never Dies” as the first ethnic Chinese Bond girl opposite Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond. Despite breaking the mold of a typical Bond girl, Yeoh faced a lack of diverse roles in Hollywood and was often offered roles of “fragile Asian women.” She recalled being told that she couldn’t be cast alongside an African-American lead because they “can’t have two minorities.”
Michelle Yeoh, who was nominated as TIME’s “Icon of The Year 2022,” has had a diverse acting career, portraying geishas, Nobel laureates, and even metaverse surfers. In an interview, she discussed the struggle for Asian actors to get non-stereotypical roles and top billing. Her breakthrough role was in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” where her martial arts background was highlighted. She also played Mameha in “Memoirs of a Geisha” and Aung San Suu Kyi in “The Lady.” More recently, she starred in “Crazy Rich Asians” and various series, including “Marvel” and “The Witcher.” However, it was her role as Evelyn in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” that finally gave her top billing.
Otherwise, Michelle Yeoh is known for her witty acceptance speeches, which often reference the barriers she has faced as an Asian actress in Hollywood. She recounted a story of being asked if she spoke English upon arriving in Hollywood, which drew laughter from the audience. Yeoh has also used her platform to champion representation and diversity, declaring her SAG award as a win for every little girl who looks like her. As she is widely tipped to win the Academy Award, Yeoh sees her nomination as a representation for many who have hoped to be seen and valued in the industry.
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