Michelle Yeoh made Academy Awards history Sunday night, as she became the first Asian celebrity to win a starring role.
Yeoh won the first Academy Award of her famous career, for Best Actress in Everything Everywhere at Once. The honor came after a long career in martial arts and action films such as Hidden Crouching Dragon and Yes, Ma’am.
Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the hilarious science fiction adventure centers on Yeoh’s Evelyn Wang, a middle-aged laundry owner who, while being audited by the IRS, discovers she must communicate with copies of herself from parallel universes to prevent catastrophe. Devastation.
“For all the little boys and girls watching me tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibility,” Yeoh said from the stage. “This is proof that dreams do come true. Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you you’re past New Year’s Day. Never give up.”
Yeoh dedicated the award to her mother and all mothers in the world. “They are real superheroes, and without them, none of us would be here tonight,” she said.
At the Academy Awards, Yoh is only the third Asian woman — after Yoh Jong-yeon for Minari and Miyoshi Omiki for “Sayonara” — and the first in the lead category to win an acting award. In winning the trophy, Yeoh beat out Cate Blanchett for “Tár,” Michelle Williams for “The Fabelmans,” Andrea Riseborough for “To Leslie” and Ana de Armas for “Blonde.”
As I walked off the stage, I exclaimed, “Thank you Academy—that’s history in the making!”
Despite the competition stacked up, Yeoh was the favorite to win because it was honored at nearly every introductory ceremony, including the SAG Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, and Golden Globe Awards.
“I wouldn’t be standing here tonight without Daniels, without the amazing cast and crew [and] She said everyone involved was “everything everywhere at once”. “Also, my extended family is in Hong Kong, which is where my career began. Thank you for letting me stand on your shoulders.”
The award adds to the record awards season for Everything Everywhere Every Time, which became only the fifth film in history to sweep four major guild awards (DGA, PGA, SAG, and WGA). At the Academy Awards, it scored a leading 11 nominations, including Best Picture, Director for Daniels and Supporting Actress for Stephanie Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis (which won the award) and Best Supporting Actor for Ke Huy Quan (which also won in its category). It won Best Picture and six other trophies.
“Everything Everywhere at Once” premiered nearly a year ago at SXSW, where it became a significant commercial success. The film eventually grossed over $100 million worldwide becoming A24’s highest-grossing release of all time.
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