Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar win for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was hardly surprising, but it was one of the most anticipated awards of the night due to the fact that she was the first Asian woman to win Best Actress in a Leading Role.
Throughout her Oscar campaign, Yeoh has always been open about the historical implications of an Asian actress finally winning the coveted award. When it was time to speak to the media after her win, she was glad to bask in her accomplishment.
“This is actually a historical moment,” Yeoh said to assembled press after the win. “So I really have to thank the Academy for acknowledging and embracing diversity and true representation. I think this is something that we have been working so hard towards for a very long time, and tonight we freaking broke that glass ceiling. I kung fu’d it out and shattered it.”
Yeoh went on to emphasize that her win was about more than just Asian actors getting their moment in the spotlight. She explained that the significance of this moment goes far beyond any individual demographic, because it’s a step toward a more inclusive film industry that makes space for everyone.
“And we need this, because there are so many who have felt unseen, unheard. It’s not just the Asian community — this is for everyone who has ever identified as a minority. We deserve to be heard, we deserve to be seen, we deserve to have equal opportunities so we can have a seat at the table. That’s all we are asking for. Give us that opportunity, let us prove we are worth it.”
After looking back on her journey, Yeoh offered some advice to all of the other artists who are waiting for a chance to be seen. She encouraged everyone to keep pursuing their dreams, regardless of what stage of life they’re currently in.
“If this is your passion, this is your love, you have to stand up for what you believe in and what you want to do,” she said. “I’m still here today — finally after 40 years, I get this. It just goes to show, we will win the battle. And that’s what we’re doing. So don’t give up, never give up. Because once you give up, it’s a loss. Don’t let anybody put you in a box, don’t let anybody say you’re past your prime. Because we believe in ourselves, we believe in what we do, we love what we do. Light that fire in your soul and stay on the path.”