Michelle Yeoh made history at the Oscars on Sunday as she became the first Asian lead actress to win an Academy Award. Yeoh, who has had a distinguished career in martial arts and action movies like “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and “Yes, Madam,” won the award for her performance in the zany sci-fi adventure, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”. Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the film centers on Yeoh’s character, Evelyn Wang, a middle-aged laundromat owner who must connect with parallel versions of herself to prevent cataclysmic destruction.
During her acceptance speech, Yeoh expressed her gratitude to her mother and all mothers around the world, whom she called the real superheroes. She dedicated her award to them and reminded everyone that dreams do come true and that it’s never too late to pursue them. Yeoh’s win was especially significant for young boys and girls who look like her and can now see that anything is possible.
Yeoh’s win is a momentous occasion in the history of the Oscars, as she is only the third Asian woman and the first in the lead category to win an acting prize. She beat out other talented actresses such as Cate Blanchett, Michelle Williams, Andrea Riseborough, and Ana de Armas. Yeoh’s win was not unexpected, as she had been honoured at nearly every precursory ceremony, including the SAG Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and the Golden Globes.
Yeoh acknowledged the support of her extended family in Hong Kong, where she began her career, and thanked the Daniels, the cast, and crew of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” for their contribution to her success. The film had a record awards season, winning four major guild awards, including the DGA, PGA, SAG, and WGA. At the Oscars, it scored a leading 11 nominations, winning best picture and six other trophies. Yeoh extended her gratitude to the many people who have touched her life in meaningful ways.
“I have to dedicate this to my mom [and] all the moms in the world, because they are really the superheroes, and without them none of us would be here tonight,”
Yeoh reflected fondly on her mother.
“She’s 84, I’m taking this home to her. She’s watching right now in Malaysia … with my family and friends: I love you guys! I’m bringing this home to you.” She also thanked her “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 I can be here today.”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” premiered at SXSW nearly a year ago and went on to become a commercial and critical hit, generating over $100 million globally to become A24’s highest-grossing release of all time. Yeoh’s win is a testament to her talent and hard work, and it’s a historic moment that will inspire many people, especially those who have been underrepresented in Hollywood.