8 Facts About Michelle Yeoh, Best Actress At The 2023 Oscars
On Sunday (12 Mar), Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win a Best Actress Oscar.
The 95th Academy Awards saw the biggest winners with ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, and Yeoh was among them.
Having been involved with the entertainment industry since her debut in 1983, the 60-year-old actress is an icon for Asians all over the world. From the Marvel Cinematic Universe to martial arts films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you will be hard-pressed to find something that Yeoh hasn’t done.
In light of Michelle Yeoh’s historic Oscar win, here are eight things you need to know about this Malaysian powerhouse.
1. Michelle Yeoh’s career started as a beauty queen
Considering her stellar achievements in film, it might be surprising to some that her career started with beauty pageants.
In 1983, she was crowned Miss World Malaysia at the age of 20, and represented the country at the Miss World 1983 pageant in London.
However, it was through the pageantry stage that she managed to book her first acting gig in 1984.
2. Her first acting gig was a watch commercial – with Jackie Chan
Speaking of the first acting job Michelle Yeoh booked, it turns out it was a watch TV commercial for a pair of Guy Laroche him-and-hers timepieces.
For the advert, Yeoh starred alongside none other than martial arts film legend, Jackie Chan.
3. She did most of her stunts in her early martial arts films
Yeoh was given her first major break when she was offered the leading role in the 1985 Hong Kong classic ‘Yes, Madam’.
In the film, she stars as the crime-fighting Inspector Ng and stars opposite Cynthia Rothrock’s Inspector Carrie Morris.
Impressively, Michelle Yeoh is known to have done her own stunts in ‘Yes, Madam’ and many other subsequent films.
4. Became a Bond Girl in 1997, earning Hollywood fame
Yeoh soon skyrocketed to Hollywood fame when she was selected to play a Bond Girl, Wai Lin, opposite Pierce Brosnan’s 007 in Tomorrow Never Dies.
The character was widely lauded as one of the best Bond girls in the series. And that’s not all — she was also the first Bond girl of Chinese descent.
5. She holds noble orders in Malaysia & France
In her home country of Malaysia, the actress is formally Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Michelle Yeoh.
In April 2001, Yeoh was awarded the Darjah Datuk Paduka Mahkota Perak (DPMP), by Sultan Azlan Shah of her home state Perak. This gives her the state-conferred title of Dato’.
Later, in 2012, she was awarded the Darjah Seri Paduka Mahkota Perak (SPMP), which carries the Dato’ Sri title.
About a year after, she was conferred the Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM). From henceforth, she earned the federal title, Tan Sri.
In France, Michelle Yeoh has held the titles of Officier of the National Ordre des Arts et des Lettres since 2016, and Commander of the National Order of the Legion of Honour since 2017.
6. Michelle Yeoh is a Leo
On a lighter, less complicated note, Michelle Yeoh was born 6 Aug 1962. This makes her a Leo in Western astrology, and a Tiger in terms of the Chinese zodiac.
Those in the know might realise that her animal counterparts explain the reason she is so successful as an entertainer.
She embodies confidence and courage, and these are qualities that make her one of the most beloved actresses today.
7. She used to be known as Michelle Khan
Yes, you heard that right. In her earlier works, including the aforementioned ‘Yes, Madam’, she was credited as “Michelle Khan”.
Reportedly, this was chosen by D&B Films, the Hong Kong film company she worked with at the time. They allegedly thought it would make Yeoh more marketable to an international audience.
8. Studied ballet in London
Did you know that if she did not get into the film industry, Michelle Yeoh would probably have been a professional dancer?
Yeoh majored in ballet at the Royal Academy of Dance in London back when she was still a student. She was supposed to be a professional ballerina, but was ultimately unable to due to a back injury.
According to an interview with The Guardian, her plan was to open a dance school in Malaysia after completing her studies.
Her career path took yet another turn when she won Miss World Malaysia, which propelled her into acting.
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Featured image adapted from AFP via The Star.
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