Michelle Yeoh’s Academy Award win for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was one of the most historic moments on the Oscars stage in recent memory. The award validated her decades-spanning career as one of Hollywood’s most underrated action stars and gave her the noteworthy honor of being the first Asian woman to win Best Leading Actress. Yeoh never downplayed the significance of her nomination during her Oscar campaign — and now she’s ready to talk about the benefits that she’s enjoying.
Speaking to Variety at a Cannes event, Yeoh spoke about the positive ripple effects that her Oscar win have had for the Asian American community in Hollywood.
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“The most important thing it has done is it has generated such pride with our people,” Yeoh said. “The day I won I honestly heard the roar of joy that came from that corner of the world. It’s been slowly moving in that way and this has pushed the door open and it’s not shutting behind me… When there’s so few roles in the past it’s so competitive. If you get the job, I don’t get the job. But now we have to change the mindset. If I’m successful, you can be successful.”
Yeoh got even more specific and revealed that one of the best parts of her recent success is the fact that she is being offered characters who are nuanced enough to be defined by more than their Asian heritage.
“The best thing that has happened is I receive a script that doesn’t describe the character as a Chinese or Asian-looking person,” she said. “We are actors. We are supposed to act. We are supposed to step into roles that are given to us and do our job as best we can. That, for me, is the biggest step forward.”
She credits the unlikely success of “Everything Everywhere All at Once” to the independent film community’s willingness to think outside the box and refusal to be pigeonholed by traditional Hollywood standards.
“It’s just a matter of pushing the envelope and refusing to say that this is the ‘normal way.’ In the ‘normal way,’ would ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ would have been nominated? Chances are no, five to 10 years ago.”
While Yeoh is thrilled to discuss the work she did on “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” she gave a definitive “no” when asked about those sequel rumors.
“There’s no sequel,” she said. “We would just be doing the same thing.”
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