“If it was so easy it would have been done before,” Everything Everywhere All at Once star Michelle Yeoh said of the Andrea Riseborough Oscar controversy this morning.
Questioned on the last minute campaign that saw Riseborough nominated for $27,000-grosser To Lesie, Yeoh downplayed any notion that this had bent Academy rules.
“The Academy has always prided itself on having regulations and playing by the rules and if [cheating them] was so easy it would have done before,” Yeoh told the BBC’s Today program. “We are always evolving on how to protect our integrity and I have great faith we will continue to do that.”
The Academy examined Riseborough’s Oscar nod, which came following what some deemed aggressive campaigning from the likes of fellow nominee Cate Blanchett, but declined to rescind. It is, however, mulling “whether changes to the guidelines may be needed in a new era of social media and digital communication.”
Criticism has come from some quarters over how her nomination came at the expense of Black actresses Viola Davis (The Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till) but Yeoh, who is the first Asian American to be nominated for Best Actress, stressed how difficult it is to simply get to this point.
“I love [Viola and Danielle] to the extreme and wish we were all getting Oscars but it’s tough,” she added. “It took me 40 years to even get a nomination. Every single actor and actress puts their heart and soul into these movies and you don’t necessarily start thinking you are going to get nominated. The stories we want to tell are more important.”
Alongside Blanchett, Yeoh is considered a frontrunner for Best Actress having dazzled as Evelyn Wong in the Daniels’ A24 multiverse thriller, which has grossed more than $100M worldwide and picked up 11 Oscar nominations.
She stressed the generational nature of the hit movie and said it had helped bring families from immigrant backgrounds back together.
“Different generations come up to me and say ‘I don’t quite understand your film but you have started a conversation with my estranged daughter that I haven’t spoken to for two years’,” added Yeoh. “That is really special.”
She described being Oscar nominated following a four decade career as “quite the journey” and said she “hopes this is the start of a whole new world” for Asian actresses.
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