Michelle Yeoh Says ‘Don’t Wait for Hollywood’ to Change the Course on Asian Representation
May 22, 2022
“It’s not about other people doing for us. First, we have to do for ourselves,” the Everything Everywhere All at Once star tells PEOPLE at the Gold House’s Gold Gala event on Saturday.
Michelle Yeoh is proudly celebrating her AAPI heritage!
While speaking to PEOPLE at Gold House’s Gold Gala event on Saturday, the Everything Everywhere All at Once star discussed the course and progress of Asian representation in Hollywood.
When asked if she thinks Hollywood has stepped up to represent more Asians on-screen, Yeoh, 59, replies, “You know what, it’s not about other people doing for us. First, we have to do for ourselves.”
“We should never give up. We should always push. We should always step up and step forward to make sure the changes are there,” she explains. “Don’t wait for Hollywood to change this course.”
The celebrated star continues, “We have to change the course. We have to. We have brilliant storytellers. And when we tell a story, like Everything Everywhere All at Once, Hollywood said so.”
Yeoh landed one of her first gigs in the entertainment capital in 1997 starring in the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, playing captivating superspy Wai Lin opposite Pierce Brosnan. Prior to the role, she was already a well-known actress in Asia, who performed her own stunts in a series of Hong Kong action films. In 1992, she starred alongside Jackie Chan in Police Story 3: Super Cop.
The Malaysian-born actress has since scored multiple other roles, including the formidable warrior Yu Shu Lien in 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. More recently, she played the regal and unwavering Eleanor Young in 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians, as well as the fierce Ying Nan in Marvel’s 2021 hit, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Her recent sci-fi film Everything Everywhere All at Once, which premiered in March, is predicted to become A24’s highest-grossing movie at the domestic box office with a take between $50 to $52 million, Deadline reports.
During the chat with PEOPLE, Yeoh also shares her next undertaking working on a TV series for Disney+, entitled American Born Chinese.
“It mixes our culture, the Chinese mythology culture to looking through the lens of a young ABC born here in America, a Chinese boy,” she says of the show.
Noting that she only takes on projects that she finds “fascinating, that are good storytelling,” she also says she doesn’t look for her next project based on what would top her last one.
“That’s a big, huge chip on the shoulder,” she tells PEOPLE. Instead, she would contemplate, “How do I be better? How do I make this role that I play more interesting and that people will love it as much as I do.”
At the event, in collaboration with Meta, Yeoh was honored to become the first-ever recipient of the SeeHer award for defying gender stereotypes throughout her career.
Upon accepting the award, she says she would like to “dedicate this great honor to tireless women who have worked hard their entire lives and remain unseen.”
“Let this award be proof that all women’s stories need to be told and need to be seen,” she adds. “Let us make that common and normal and not just a one-off.”