Anna May Wong becomes first Asian American to be featured on US currency

Hollywood actress starred in more than 60 films, facing discrimination and racism

Actress Anna May Wong, featured on the quarter, is the first Asian American to appear on US currency. Reuters
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The US Mint will for the first time feature an Asian American on the nation's currency when it circulates an image of actress Anna May Wong on a coin next week.

Wong worked in Hollywood during a period of open racism and stereotyping. She was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, a year before her death.

“Throughout her career, she championed the need for increased representation and more multidimensional roles for Asian American actors,” the US Mint said in a statement.

The quarter-dollar coin will feature a profile of Wong with her signature fringe and long fingernails. It is the latest coin to be designed as part of the Mint's American Women Quarters programme.

Wong, born in 1905, was first cast as an extra in the film The Red Lantern at the age of 14. She landed her first leading role in 1922, starring as Lotus Flower in The Toll of the Sea.

She went on to appear in more than 60 films and made one of the first to feature Technicolor. Still, she faced discrimination in Hollywood and was passed up for leading roles.

“She is remembered as an international film star, fashion icon, television trailblazer, and a champion for greater representation of Asian Americans in film. She continues to inspire actors and filmmakers today,” the Mint said.

The programme is part of the Mint's efforts to honour American women who have made contributions to fields such as civil rights, government, the humanities, space, science and the arts.

Other women who have been featured in the programme include poet Maya Angelou, astronaut Sally Ride, Native American chief Wilma Mankiller and author Nina Otero-Warren.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: October 19, 2022, 9:12 PM