LOS ANGELES— Malaysia’s Michelle Yeoh won the Academy Award on Sunday for best lead actress for her role as a Chinese American laundromat owner dealing with family turmoil in “Everything Everywhere All at Once”, becoming the first Asian woman to win in the category.
Yeoh, 60, was widely regarded as the front-runner for the award after claiming a Screen Actors Guild honor and a Golden Globe award for the role. This was her first Oscar nomination.
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“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 dream big and dreams do come true,” Yeoh said while accepting her award. “And ladies, don’t let anybody ever tell you you are past your prime.”
In “Everything Everywhere,” Yeoh’s character, Evelyn Wang, is struggling to finish her taxes when she is swept into alternate universes. The science-fiction film was a critical and commercial success and is vying for the best picture Oscar.
Yeoh got her start in Hong Kong action movies in the 1990s and broke through in Hollywood when she was cast as the first ethnic Chinese Bond girl in 1997’s “Tomorrow Never Dies” opposite Pierce Brosnan.
Since then, she has enjoyed success in a range of genres, solidifying her reputation as both a big-budget action star and formidable acting talent.
Her best-known films include Ang Lee’s 2000 martial arts movie “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” the 2005 period drama “Memoirs of a Geisha” and the 2018 romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians.”
—Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Jonathan Oatis