Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once won many accolades last night in the 95th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress.  It was the most nominated film with 11 and took home seven trophies. The Best Actress winner, Michelle Yeoh is particularly significant because she is cited as the first Asian actor to win an Oscar. In recent years, it has been uncovered that Merle Oberon, nominated for Best Actress in 1936, was the first Asian actress to be nominated. However at that time, no one knew of Oberon’s biracial heritage.  Oberon went through great lengths, such as lightening her skin, to hide her South Asian identity throughout her whole career. She feared racism and jeopardizing her career.  Yeoh started her nearly forty years ago and did not deny or shy away from her ethnicity.  She has been able to primarily avoid roles typical held for Asian females – socially awkward nerd or prostitute. Michelle Yeoh has made a very successful career with playing a strong or heroin type of supporting roles. However Yeoh played Evelyn, a leading role in a film that won Best Picture! There are very few films with Asians in lead roles and particularly in films that are so well celebrated. I recall in my early actress and modeling years when I was only called on to audition for doctors or scientists roles.  It worked out fine for me as there were many opportunities for the model minority roles. However, I always coveted the leading roles in the commercials, ads or shows.  We have come along way and last nights Academy Awards represents a welcome shift in Hollywood.

– CKP

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