Better World

Michelle Yeoh becomes first Asian actor to win best actress Oscar

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Michelle Yeoh, at 60 years old, made history at the 95th Academy Awards by becoming the first Asian actor to win the coveted Best Actress award for her performance in the genre-bending film, Everything Everywhere All at Once.

In her acceptance speech, she recognized the impact of her own mother on her success, and honored all moms across the world. Yeoh said, “I have to dedicate this to my mom…all the moms in the world, because they are really the superheroes, and without them none of us would be here tonight.”

The film she starred in resonated deeply with viewers, particularly Asian American audiences, who were able to see themselves reflected in the relationship between Yeoh’s character Evelyn and her daughter Joy as they navigate the multiverse to bridge the widening rift between them. As PBS reports, “Across social media, many [Asian Americans] describe crying during the film’s last hour as the relationship between Evelyn and daughter Joy hits a make-or-break juncture. Some say they feel like they’re watching their own immigrant mother become the hero of her story for the first time. Others say they’ve gained a better understanding about parents who typically don’t wear their emotions on their sleeve.”

Yeoh’s Oscar win is a significant milestone for Asian American actors who have struggled to get leading roles in Hollywood. For years, Asian actors and actresses have been underrepresented in the entertainment industry, and their contributions have often been overlooked or diminished.

Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar for Best Actress is a momentous occasion that signifies a change in the entertainment industry’s narrative. Her win is a symbol of hope for aspiring Asian actors and actresses who still face significant challenges in Hollywood, and it highlights the importance of diversity, representation, and inclusion in film.

Mckenna Saady is a staff writer and digital content lead for ParentsTogether. Before working for nonprofits such as the Human Rights Campaign and United Way, Mckenna spent nearly a decade as a child care provider and Pre-K teacher. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now lives in Philadelphia and writes poetry, fiction, and children’s literature in her spare time.