Michelle Yeoh is the first Asian woman to win best actress Oscar
Updated March 13, 2023 at 12:35 AM ET
For the first time in its 95-year history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded the Oscar for best actress in a leading role to an Asian woman. Michelle Yeoh accepted the Oscar for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, in which she plays Evelyn Wang, the Chinese first-generation immigrant owner of a laundromat around whom the film's absurdist multiverse revolves.
Yeoh received a lengthy standing ovation as she walked to the podium to accept her award.
Brandishing the Oscar statuette, she said, "For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibility.
"And ladies, don't let anyone ever tell you you are past your prime."
She dedicated her win to her mother, whom she called a "superhero."
The Malaysian-born Yeoh became a star of Hong Kong cinema before coming to global attention in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, Tomorrow Never Dies and Crazy Rich Asians. This was her first Oscar nomination.
Speaking to All Things Considered's Ailsa Chang last April, Yeoh said she saw a cultural moment where Asians could finally find a larger voice in Hollywood and society.
"We just have to rock the boat and say, look at us," she said. "Give us a chance - because guess what? We exist in your society. We are part of the society and very, very much an intricate part of this whole community. This is the only way we will get more opportunities — if we fight for it and no longer be able to say, OK, I'll turn the other cheek. Dang — no more turning the other cheek."
Before tonight's ceremony, Yeoh's work in Everything Everywhere All at Once garnered her many accolades, including a Golden Globe, an Independent Spirit Award, several local Film Critics Awards, a SAG Award, and nominations for a Critics' Choice Award and a BAFTA Award.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.