China’s Gong Li: Michelle Yeoh’s success encourages Asian actors

May 21, 2023 - 12:04 PM
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Best Actress Michelle Yeoh poses with her Oscar in the photo room at the 95th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 12, 2023. (Reuters/Mike Blake)

 Gong Li, one of China’s best actors, told Reuters on Wednesday that Michelle Yeoh’s recent success at the Oscars and Golden Globes was particularly encouraging for Asian actors.

“Since the beginning of the epidemic to now, in fact, the film industry has not been so vibrant, not like it was before, so her award is also an encouragement,” Gong said.

Yeoh, who is Malaysian, won best actress at both awards shows last year for her role in multiverse adventure “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

“It really was a very special journey, and a very long one,” Gong said. “Well, congratulations to her, because I also take it as an encouragement to fellow Asian actors to enter the world.”

Gong, who rose to fame as the star of lush Chinese movies such as 1988’s “Red Sorghum” and “Farewell my Concubine” in 1993, before earning wider recognition in Hollywood films such as 2005’s “Memoirs of a Geisha”, was back on the Cannes Film Festival’s red carpet this week after being on pandemic lockdown for the last three years.

“Firstly, everyone really has to get out, go out, go out of the house, and go abroad to see the world, to go back to how it was before,” said Gong, who has been coming to Cannes for more than two decades and was on the Palme d’Or jury in 1997.

China dropped its strict zero-COVID policy, which kept its borders shut for most international travel, late last year.

RELATED: Michelle Yeoh wins best actress Oscar for ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’

—Reporting by Hanna Rantala and Yiming Woo; Writing by Miranda Murray; Editing by Jonathan Oatis