Michelle Yeoh, the accomplished Malaysian actress with various iconic roles in Hollywood, recently opened up about her struggles with stereotypes in the film industry. In the 1990s, Yeoh took a hiatus from acting for nearly two years due to the limited roles she was offered, which were often stereotypical and perpetuated negative cultural portrayals.
Despite her talent and achievements, Michelle Yeoh was undervalued in Hollywood because of her nationality. However, she persevered and eventually earned recognition for her exceptional acting skills, breaking barriers for actors of Asian descent in Hollywood.
Michelle Yeoh’s Journey to Hollywood Stardom
In the 1997 Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, Yeoh subverted expectations of the Bond Girl as Chinese agent Wai Lin. She saved 007’s life, turned down his overtures, and held her own against the most dominant men.
Suggested Article: “His absence makes him an even bigger figure”: Creed 3 Star Tessa Thompson on Why Sylvester Stallone isn’t in the Movie
Even though several offers came her way after the movie’s success, in an interview with People, Michelle Yeoh recounts how she encountered difficulties due to her mixed heritage.
“At that point, people in the industry couldn’t really tell the difference between whether I was Chinese or Japanese or Korean or if I even spoke English. They would talk very loudly and very slow.”
The actress also describes her decision not to take those roles, which led her to take almost two years off from acting. Yet Michelle Yeoh held firm, turning down parts that didn’t fit with who she was and what she believed in.
I didn’t work for almost two years, until Crouching Tiger, simply because I could not agree with the stereotypical roles that were put forward to me.”
Read More: “A lot of actors I bond with have been doing this”: Emma Stone Slapped Willem Dafoe 20 Times for an Offscreen Scene
Since her breakthrough in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, she’s been cast in various Hollywood productions. She’s been in many high-profile productions, including the Avatar franchise and the critically acclaimed film Crazy Rich Asians.
From One Movie Franchise To The Other
By breaking barriers and winning the Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actress in a Leading Role, Michelle Yeoh cleared the path for other artists of Asian origin to follow in her footsteps.
Michelle Yeoh was the first Southeast Asian actress nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal in Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, for which she also won the SAG Award for Best Actress and was named the first candidate for the Oscar for Best Actress.
Also Read: Tom Cruise Reportedly Lost Out Cult-Classic $86M Movie Role to Johnny Depp Because He Kept Asking Too Many Questions
Michelle Yeoh in the MCU
In the Marvel movies, fans and critics have praised her performance as Aleta Ogord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Ying Nan in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Including Yeoh in the MCU is a great example of Hollywood’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.