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Michelle Yeoh has made history by winning the Academy Award for best actress for her role in the film “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Yeoh is the first Asian actress to win in the award and only the second to be nominated in the category. She is, however, considered the first “openly” Asian actress to be nominated, as the first nominee, Merle Oberon, concealed her South Asian identity throughout her career in the 1930s.
Yeoh, who is 60 years old, bested fellow nominees Cate Blanchett for “Tár,” Ana de Armas for “Blonde,” Andrea Riseborough for “To Leslie” and Michelle Williams for “The Fabelmans.” Yeoh previously won the Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture comedy or musical for the same role.
“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that dreams dream big and dreams do come true,” Yeoh said in her acceptance speech. “And ladies, don’t let anybody ever tell you you are past your prime. Never give up.”
During a press event after the show Sunday night, Yeoh called this “a historic moment.”
“We need this, because there are so many who have felt unseen, unheard,” she said. “It’s not just the Asian community — this is for the Asian community, but for anybody who’s been identified as a minority. We deserve to be heard, we deserve to be seen, we deserve to have the equal opportunity so we can have a seat at the table. That’s all we are asking for: Give us that opportunity, let us prove we are worth it.”
The film won Academy Awards for other categories as well, picking up seven Oscars total, including best director, best film editing and best picture.
Jamie Lee Curtis also took home the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in the film, with actor Ke Huy Quan taking home the award for best supporting actor. Quan was moved to tears while accepting his award, saying his 84-year-old mother was at home watching, while he recalled how his life began.
“My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp. And somehow I ended up on Hollywood’s biggest stage,” he said. “They say stories like this only happened in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me. This is the American dream.”
Quan is the second ever Asian actor to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, with Cambodian actor Haing S. Ngor winning the first in 1985 for the film “The Killing Fields.”
“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a wild ride that follows a Chinese immigrant who finds out that she can save all of humanity by exploring other universes and connecting with the lives she could have led. It is currently streaming on Showtime, or you can purchase it on Amazon.
Congratulations to all the Oscar nominees and winners!