At the Academy Awards, Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh created entertainment history when she won Best Actress for her work in Everything Everywhere All At Once.
In the 95-year history of the Academy, Yeoh became the first actress of Asian heritage to take home the Best Actress prize. She is also the first Malaysian to have both an Academy Award nomination and a win.
The Ipoh-born actress won the prized acting award ahead of Cate Blanchett, an Australian actress and two-time Oscar winner who was thought to be her closest rival. In the Best Actress category, Ana De Armas, Michelle Williams, and Andrea Riseborough were all nominated.
“Thank you, thank you. For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof, dream big, and dreams do come true,” Yeoh said after accepting the statuette from actresses Jessica Chastain and Halle Berry.
“And ladies, don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re past your prime,” added Yeoh who at 60 is the oldest among the nominees in her category.
“I have to dedicate this (award) to my mum, all the mums in the world because they are really the superheroes, and without them, none of us would be here tonight.
“I’m taking this home to her. She’s watching right now in Malaysia, KL, with my family and friends. I love you guys. I’m bringing this home to you,” Yeoh continued.
“And also to my extended family in Hong Kong where I started my career. Thank you for letting me stand on your shoulders, giving me a leg up so that I can be here today,” she added.
It has been a triumphant year for Yeoh who swept many accolades in the awards circuit for her role as Evelyn Wang, a harassed laundromat owner who has the ability to hop through multiverses in the indie flick, Everything Everywhere All At Once.
“Playing Evelyn Wang has been one of the great privileges of my 40 year career. It is truly the role of a lifetime. I will forever cherish this moment,” the Malaysian actress said on social media in January.
Among the awards Yeoh won in the past couple of months include the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and the Independent Spirit Awards.
Yeoh’s victory at the Oscars is seen as a watershed moment for the Asian community in the entertainment industry.
The actress told MSNBC last week that winning the Oscar is not just an achievement for her.
“It matters a lot,” Yeoh said when asked if winning the Oscar was important to her.
“And it doesn’t just matter to me. It’s shining the light on a part of the world, of people that look like me who’s never been included.”
Celebrating 40 years in showbiz
Yeoh can celebrate her 40th year in the spotlight by winning the Oscars, which are the highest honour an actor can receive on the global stage.
Yeoh’s professional career began after she triumphed at the 1983 Miss Malaysia World pageant.
When she relocated to Hong Kong in the middle of the 1980s, she exchanged her beauty sash for movie screenplays.
She frequently played the part of an action heroine in films like Yes, Madam, Police Story 3: Supercop, and The Heroic Trio.
Yeoh became a global celebrity in 1997 when she made her debut as Bond girl Wai Lin in the 007 film Tomorrow Never Dies.
Since then, Yeoh has maintained a consistent acting career in Hollywood, appearing in hit movies like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Crazy Rich Asians, and Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings as well as well-liked TV shows like Star Trek: Discovery and The Witcher: Blood Origin.
Yeoh is now working on the Wicked musical adaption with Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo.
On Sunday night in Los Angeles, the Dolby Theatre hosted the 95th Academy Awards ceremony (Monday morning in Malaysia).