“Everything Everywhere All at Once” Star Michelle Yeoh Makes History as the First Asian Best Actress Oscar Nominee
Michelle Yeoh is a Malaysian actress who has had a successful career in Hollywood. She first gained international recognition for her role as Wai Lin in the 1997 James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. She went on to star in other notable Hollywood films, such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Yeoh is also known for her role in the Star Trek: Discovery television series. She is considered one of the most prominent Asian actors in Hollywood and is now nominated for Oscar.
This is the first Oscar nomination for the actress.
On Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar nominations, which included one for Michelle Yeoh for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once. This marks Yeoh’s first Oscar nomination throughout her career and is significant not just for the actress but also for the Academy, as it highlights the presentation of Asian actors in Hollywood and their achievements.
Talking about her nomination, Yeoh said, “That is the most important thing. I’m very ordinary. I just work very hard. There are so many brilliant actresses, actors out there who know that they have a seat at the table. All they have to do is find an opportunity and get there.”
Among other Best Actress nominees are Ana De Armas for her role in Netflix’s Blonde, Andrea Riseborough for her performance in To Leslie, Michelle Williams for The Fabelmans, and Cate Blanchett for her performance in TÀR.
Everything Everywhere All at Once may also be crowned Best Picture.
The movie Everything Everywhere All at Once received many nominations at the Academy Awards, 11 in total. Among them are nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Michelle Yeoh) and Best Director (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert).
Interestingly, in the movie, Michelle Yeoh plays the character of Evelyn Wang, a Chinese American immigrant dealing with various personal, professional, and cosmic problems. Her husband is filing for divorce, her laundromat business is being audited, and the universe is facing an all-encompassing evil that only she can defeat. This character allows Yeoh to portray a more complex and nuanced version of the strong and composed maternal figures she has played in the past.
Yeoh talked about her role in the film, saying, “You know what, I did. I waited a long time for this, and luckily it came. Some people wait their whole life, and the opportunity might never come. I was patient. I was resilient. I never stopped learning. And so I was ready when the opportunity did present itself.”
Yeoh may become the first Asian actress to win an Oscar.
Until recently, no woman who identifies as Asian has been recognized as Best Actress by the Academy. Some recordkeepers consider Merle Oberon and Vivien Leigh the first Asian nominees for Best Actress, but they both hid their Asian heritage and passed as caucasian. Additionally, past nominees Salma Hayek, Cher, and Natalie Portman have some Western Asian heritage but do not identify as Asian.
This is why the nomination of Michelle Yeoh is a significant step toward celebrating inclusivity in Hollywood and inspiring young Asian talent to pursue their dreams. As the actress herself noticed, “I think what it means to me are all those Asians out there go, ’You see, it’s possible. If she can do it, I can freaking well do it as well.’”
Have you watched Everything Everywhere All at Once? How would you rate the movie and Michelle Yeoh’s role in it?