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Michelle Yeoh makes history as first Asian to win Best Actress Oscar

The 60-year-old Malaysian star wins for her role in Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Michelle Yeoh makes history as first Asian to win Best Actress Oscar

Michelle Yeoh accepts the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role for Everything Everywhere All At Once at the Oscars on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Michelle Yeoh has made history. On Monday (Mar 13) morning Singapore/Malaysia time, the 60-year-old Malaysian star became the first Asian to win a best actress trophy at the Academy Awards for playing Evelyn Wang in the sci-fi comedy film Everything Everywhere All At Once.

She said in her acceptance speech: “I have to dedicate this to my mum and all the mums in the world because they are really the superheroes and without them none of us would be here tonight."

“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibility. This is proof that dreams dream big and dreams do come true. And ladies, don't let anyone tell you you are ever past your prime."

Janet Yeoh, mother of Michelle Yeoh, celebrates after her daughter won in the best actress category during the 95th Academy Awards in Los Angeles, as seen in a live view event at a cinema in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, March 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Several of her fellow cast mates were also nominated for Oscars. Ke Huy Quan picked up the Oscar for best supporting actor, and Jamie Lee Curtis beat fellow cast member Stephanie Hsu to win best supporting actress.

Everything Everywhere entered the Oscars race this year with a leading 11 nominations and swept seven awards in all, including best picture, best director, best film editing and best original screenplay. 

In the movie, Yeoh plays an exasperated Chinese immigrant laundromat owner struggling to finish her taxes. She edged out nominees Ana De Armas (Blonde), Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans) and fellow frontrunner Cate Blanchett (Tar) for the award.

Michelle Yeoh arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo: AP/Invision/Jordan Strauss)

During the final hours of Oscars voting on Mar 7, Yeoh shared – and then deleted – what some say was a controversial post on her Instagram account.

The post highlighted screenshot snippets of a Vogue article about the lack of diversity among best actress winners at the Oscars, which explicitly referenced Yeoh’s competition Blanchett – something that industry experts say may have violated the awards’ rules.

Leading up to this historic Oscars win, Yeoh picked up best actress trophies at numerous awards shows, most recently at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in late February. The SAG Awards is widely considered one of the most reliable Oscar bellwethers. 

This image released by A24 Films shows Stephanie Hsu, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan in a scene from, Everything Everywhere All At Once. (Image: Allyson Riggs/A24 Films via AP)

Yeoh often took the opportunity during her recent acceptance speeches and interviews to call for more visibility and opportunities for Asian actors.

While delivering her speech for her best actress win during the Golden Globes ceremony in January, Yeoh jokingly threatened to beat up the musician trying to play her off the stage. She said at the time: “Shut up, please. I can beat you up, okay? It’s that serious.”

Source: CNA/sr