If Michelle Yeoh makes history with an Oscar win this weekend, she says it won’t just be for her, but for all Asians.
Yeoh, the first Asian woman to receive an Oscar acting nomination, is now the frontrunner in the Best Leading Actress category, after winning at both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
In the film Everything Everywhere All At Once, she plays Evelyn Wang, a Chinese-American immigrant who becomes the film’s unlikely hero after being swept into a surprising multiverse – a role Yeoh says reflects her challenge to be recognised in Hollywood, following her success in Chinese-language films.
Yeoh told the BBC, “You want to have that seat at the table, so you can have the privilege to be seen and heard. What I’m asking for is the privilege to compete.”
Regarding her recognition this year, and the prospect of making history at the Oscars should she win, she commented: “I’m very aware that it’s beyond me being recognised as an actress. It’s a whole community of Asians coming forward and saying: You have to do this for us.
“Asians tend to not show so much emotion. And I think maybe it’s a misconception that we don’t need our stories told, which is not true. It’s how we tell the story that makes a difference. The audience wants Hollywood to reflect the global community.”
Yeoh’s first big Western role was in 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, in which she played a Chinese spy alongside Pierce Brosnan’s 007.
Her Hollywood breakthrough came with Crazy Rich Asians in 2018, in which she played matriarch Eleanor Young.
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