Michelle Yeoh finally getting scripts that don’t ask for ‘an Asian-looking person’
The Academy Award-winning actress is happy that Hollywood no longer limits her to characters who are defined by heritage alone: “We are actors. We are supposed to act.”
Yeoh, who took home Best Actress at the 95th Academy Awards ceremony just two months ago, has spent four decades in an industry that she notes often ignored Asian performers. But during the Women in Motion panel at the Cannes Film Festival ,the Academy Award winning actress explained that after the romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians became a global hit in 2018, she was offered more roles with characters who weren’t defined by heritage alone.
“The best thing that has happened is [when] I receive a script that doesn’t describe the character as a Chinese or Asian-looking person,” said Yeoh. “We are actors. We are supposed to act. We are supposed to be able to step into roles that are given to us and do our job as best we can. That, for me, is the biggest step forward.”
Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage
In March, Yeoh became the first ever Asian woman to win Best Actress (and only the second woman of color). Since taking home the trophy, the significance of that moment has only grown for her.
“The most important thing it has done is it has generated such pride with our people,” Yeoh said. “The day that I won I honestly heard the roar of joy that came from that corner of the world.”
The star believes that taking home that trophy sent ripples through Hollywood’s Asian community and opened a door that she refuses to let shut behind her.
“What I feel this has done is not just for me, but me being able to bring other people in as well,” she added. “I think in the past, when there was so few roles, it was so competitive. And I can understand why. It’s like ‘If you get the job, that means I don’t have the job, because it’s either you or me.’ But now we have to change the mindset. If I’m successful, you’re gonna be successful. And together we can make big success out of this and create more roles.”
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