March 13, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh made showbiz history at the Academy Awards when she took home the Best Actress award for her performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Yeoh became the first actress of Asian descent to win in the Best Actress category in the Academy’s 95-year history. She’s also the first Malaysian to be nominated and win in the Academy Awards.
“Thank you, thank you. For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof, dream big, and dreams do come true,” Yeoh said after accepting the statuette from actresses Jessica Chastain and Halle Berry.
“And ladies, don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re past your prime,” added Yeoh who at 60 is the oldest among the nominees in her category.
The Ipoh-born star beat Australian actress and two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, who was said to be her closest contender, for the coveted acting prize. Other nominees in the Best Actress category included Ana De Armas, Michelle Williams and Andrea Riseborough.
“I have to dedicate this (award) to my mum, all the mums in the world because they are really the superheroes, and without them, none of us would be here tonight.
“I’m taking this home to her. She’s watching right now in Malaysia, KL, with my family and friends. I love you guys. I’m bringing this home to you,” Yeoh continued.
“And also to my extended family in Hong Kong where I started my career. Thank you for letting me stand on your shoulders, giving me a leg up so that I can be here today,” she added.
It has been a triumphant year for Yeoh who swept many accolades in the awards circuit for her role as Evelyn Wang, a harassed laundromat owner who has the ability to hop through multiverses in the indie flick, Everything Everywhere All At Once.
“Playing Evelyn Wang has been one of the great privileges of my 40 year career. It is truly the role of a lifetime. I will forever cherish this moment,” the Malaysian actress said on social media in January.
Among the awards Yeoh won in the past couple of months include the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and the Independent Spirit Awards.
Yeoh’s victory at the Oscars is seen as a watershed moment for the Asian community in the entertainment industry.
The actress told MSNBC last week that winning the Oscar is not just an achievement for her.
“It matters a lot,” Yeoh said when asked if winning the Oscar was important to her.
“And it doesn’t just matter to me. It’s shining the light on a part of the world, of people that look like me who’s never been included.”
Celebrating 40 years in showbiz
Clinching the Oscars – the highest recognition for an actor on the international stage – is a great way for Yeoh to celebrate her 40th year since stepping into the spotlight.
Yeoh started her professional career when she won the Miss Malaysia World pageant in 1983.
She traded her beauty sash for movie scripts when she moved to Hong Kong in the mid-1980s.
She appeared in movies such as Yes, Madam, Police Story 3: Supercop and The Heroic Trio, often playing the role of action heroine.
In 1997, Yeoh achieved international stardom when she was introduced as Bond girl, Wai Lin, in the 007 movie, Tomorrow Never Dies.
Yeoh has been steadily working in Hollywood since, starring in blockbusters such as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Crazy Rich Asians, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings as well as popular TV series, Star Trek: Discovery and The Witcher: Blood Origin.
Currently, Yeoh is working on the musical adaptation of Wicked alongside Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo.
The 95th Academy Awards was held at Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday night (Monday morning in Malaysia).