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Michelle Yeoh becomes the first Asian Best Actress Oscar nominee, says it's a win for every Asian

She says that this nomination is not just for her but for every Asian actress who has sucessfully made their way in the industry.

Michelle Yeoh becomes the first Asian Best Actress Oscar nominee, says it's a win for every Asian
Image Source: Getty Images/Jamie McCarthy

The final list of Oscar nominations for 2023 is in and they are more diverse than ever. Michelle Yeoh received the 2023 Oscar Nomination for Lead Actress in the movie "Everything Everywhere All At Once", per The Hollywood Reporter. Yeoh made history as the category's first self-identified Asian actress nominee, and she is one of four Asian actors honored this year. Her co-stars Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan are also nominated, as is Hong Chau for "The Whale." Yeoh is overwhelmed and relieved by the win. 


"Everything Everywhere All At Once" leads all films with 11 nominations, which Yeoh attributes to the film's emotional heart. She said, "We are a little movie that has such a great, loving, beating heart that so many people relate to." The 60-year-old said that they are getting an "outpouring of love" which has proved to be a "healing process."

Image Source: Getty Images/Jamie McCarthy
Image Source: Getty Images/Jamie McCarthy


The Malaysian-born actress has earned this success through her hard work and roles in iconic films like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", "Crazy Rich Asians" and "Supercop." She said, "It’s taken a long time. But I think this is more than me. At the present moment, constantly, all the time, having Asians walking up to me saying, ‘You can do it, you’re doing it for us.’ It’s like, ‘I understand. I totally understand.’ All this time, they’ve not been recognized, they’ve not been heard."

She has been in the industry for about 40 years and says that validation from peers is important and is like the "cherry on the cake." However, Yeoh feels like the reason anyone makes films is to tell a story. "You want the people to understand, whether it’s your culture, whether it’s certain very poignant stories, or important tales, to be told." She says that the nomination is not only about her, it represents so many who have hoped to have a seat at the table and have their value recognized. 



Yeoh shared, "I’m glad I got nominated. Otherwise hell, man, I wouldn’t know what to do. When they were calling out the names, I was like ‘If they don’t call my name, what am I gonna say to the people who have had so much belief in me?’ " She added, "It’s been my nightmare for the last two days, because it could happen, right? How am I gonna walk out that door? And all these disappointed Asian faces looking: ‘Why did you not do it for us?’ " 

While some believe Merle Oberon to be the first Asian nominee, she hid her origins and did not identify as such. To date, only one actress of color has won in this category, Halle Berry for "Monster's Ball" almost 20 years ago. Yeoh recognizes the historical significance of her nomination. She said, "We know of so many more amazing actresses than myself. So, this is for them. I stand on their shoulders. And I thank them for paving the way and allowing me to get here." 

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