Asians may still be considered as a minority in Hollywood, but the progress they have made are in leaps and bounds. Never has there been a time when diversity and inclusion in the industry has been celebrated this much. We are finally able to witness films that features an all-Asian ensemble, such as Crazy Rich Asians, dominate the box office charts. We now also have our very own Asian Marvel superhero movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. These milestones serve as a groundbreaking moment for Asians all over the world, and one that is deserving of all the recognitions it is getting. One of the Asian actresses who has made her mark in the world of action is Michelle Yeoh. The Malaysian-born actress rose to fame in the 90’s by appearing in Hong Kong action movies. She eventually penetrated Hollywood and went on to star in multi-awarded and blockbuster movies that cemented her place in the industry. Here are five reasons why Michelle Yeoh continues to be an Asian trailblazer :
5. She serves as a role model for women empowerment
Yeoh had to shatter barriers in order to become the star she is today. She started out in the field of beauty pageantry, winning the Miss Malaysia pageant in 1983. It was soon after that the she realized her passion for action films. Starting out in the Hong Kong action film scene meant working with one of the martial arts greats in the world of cinema, Jackie Chan. It was not easy for Yeoh to convince Chan that she had what it takes to be the next female action star to watch out for. She had to prove that she got what it takes by training non-stop and doing her own death-defying stunts. Chan even had to plead her to take it easy on the stunts at one point. Yeoh showed the world that women can also be action stars and command respect in the male-dominated arena.
4. She reminds us that age is just a number
Entering the senior citizen age group maybe daunting for many, but certainly not for Yeoh. She continues to star in huge film franchises and action movies. She even goes as far as performing her own stunts up to this day. The years have also been kind to Yeoh, who seems to have drank an anti-aging elixir from the fountain of youth. There is just something about growing older that scares the heck out of women. This might be the reason why more and more women fall prey to plastic surgery and beauty regimens to maintain one’s youthful glow. Yeoh shows us that growing older does not mean the end of the world. It is possible to grow old gracefully, and still be able to live a relevant and purposeful life. After all, real beauty is only skin deep.
3. She refuses to be stereotyped into playing certain roles
Yeoh’s wide filmography only show how versatile she is as an actor. We have seen her portray badass action heroines, a geisha, an intimidating family matriarch, and even a Human Starfleet officer through the years. She entered Hollywood during a time when it was rare to see Asian actors portray major roles, yet she even landed the opportunity of playing the first Asian Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies. This relentless mindset allowed Yeoh to elevate her career into new heights, and achieve what others would only dream about. She was in it for the long haul, and was ready to keep up with the challenges and demands of the cutthroat film industry. Yeoh kicked the door wide open for for aspiring female actions stars while showing the world that that anything is possible as long as you put your heart and soul into it.
2. She is generous enough to impart her experiences and learnings to the younger generation
Passing on the baton to the younger generation can give a new sense of fulfillment for an established person like Yeoh. Her co-stars, who consist of rising actors, such as Henry Golding and Simu Liu, only have good words for her. It’s not every day that you get to share a scene with Yeoh who has already worked with the best and the brightest. Seeing Yeoh interact with this new generation of actors gives life to her fruitful career that is filled with milestones and achievements. The years have honed her to become one of the most well-respected Asian actresses in her field, and there is nothing better for a fan to witness than two different generations of Asian actors finally merging and creating an out-of-this world project to showcase the Asian community’s A game.
1. She continues to give back to the community
Apart from appearing in memorable films, Yeoh is also a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, who works together with the organization to help empower more women and give hope to the marginalized. She also became an Animal Ambassador in 2016, and helped kick off the campaign to save the Pandas and fight climate change. Yeoh has worn many hats through the years, and one of those is to use her influence for the common good. It’s no surprise that she was included in BBC’s list of 100 most inspiring and influential women around the world for 2020. Yeoh is a game changer in so many ways, and is an Asian icon that continues to inspire so many.
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