Time named Michelle Yeoh its 2022 Icon of the Year on Tuesday, highlighting her 40-year acting career, which includes this year’s Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Yeoh is a favorite for an Oscar nomination for her performance in the well-received surreal action drama. Earlier this year, Time named her one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2022.
During her career, Yeoh told Time that she had to “fight” against a Hollywood that was offering her roles that were stereotypical of Asians or harmful tropes of Asian women.
“It wasn’t supposed to be about my race, but it was a fight,” Yeoh said. “At least let me try.”
Years before she landed her first Hollywood role, Yeoh, 60, was already a film icon in Asia. She had starred in popular Hong Kong action films in the late 1980s and 1990s and became famous for her own stunts.
By the late 1990s, Yeoh was ready to retire after getting married, wanting to have children, and suffering multiple on-set injuries. Yeoh told Time she changed course after speaking with director Quentin Tarantino, who visited her while he was promoting Pulp Fiction. He geeked in front of Yeoh and recited all of her action sequences, she recalled.
Yeoh then made her move to American cinema with the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, in which she played Bond’s equal. She continued to wow American audiences with her supporting roles in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Kung Fu Panda 2, several Marvel films, and Crazy Rich Asians.
Only in the last year has Hollywood begun to recognize her as a high-profile actress, known for her acting skills that go beyond what white audiences expect from Asian performers. In Everything Everywhere All at Once, she played the lead role of Evelyn Quan Wang, the unconventional owner of a troubled laundromat.
earlier this year, in a GQ interview It went viral on social media, with a tearful Yeoh saying her role as Evelyn was “something I’ve been waiting for” to show audiences “what I’m capable of.”
Yeoh acknowledged to The Times that taking on the role was also a risk because of the film and her character’s humor, a break with the mold of her previous roles, which lacked such dimension.
It paid off and now Yeoh is enjoying the recognition.
“Give it to me,” she told Time, referring to an Oscar for leading actress. “It’s not about needing it — it’s that feeling that doesn’t need to be explained: It’s love from other people. My arms are open.”
Yeoh also noted during the interview that despite the praise, she may still not have opportunities.
“I look at all my peers — Cate Blanchett, Olivia Colman, Helen Mirren — and I’m like, ‘Oh god, I envy you all the different opportunities you get to show your talent over and over again,'” Yeoh said. “When you get an opportunity like this, you have to put your heart and soul into it because you don’t know when the next opportunity will come. I think that’s my biggest fear: Please don’t let that be the only thing.”
Yeoh said she feels the hardship of winning an Oscar. She would be the first Asian woman to win the Leading Actress award.
“I’ve been thinking about it,” Yeoh told Time of a possible Oscar win. “And not just me – I feel like my entire Asian community has thought about it. They come up to me and say, ‘You’re doing this for us.’”
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-12-06/michelle-yeoh-is-ready-for-oscars-love-after-representation-battle-in-hollywood Time magazine names Michelle Yeoh its 2022 Icon of the Year