Michelle Yeoh becomes first Malaysian to win a Golden Globe

The veteran performer won the award for Best Actress for her role in absurdist comedy-drama Everything Everywhere All at Once

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Michelle Yeoh has become the first Malaysian to win a Golden Globe, earning the prize for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy — Motion Picture for her performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The actress was contending in the category against Lesley Manville (Mrs Harris Goes to Paris), Margot Robbie (Babylon), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Menu) and Emma Thompson (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande).

Yeoh jokingly told Golden Globe producers to "shut up" after music began playing midway through her acceptance speech.

"I can beat you up," she said, amid laughter from the crowd. "And that's serious."

“I’m just going to stand here and take this all in,” she said, grasping the golden statuette. “Forty years … I’m not letting go of this.”

Yeoh stars as Evelyn Wang in Everything Everywhere All at Once. The absurdist comedy-drama, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, tells the story of Wang, an ageing Chinese immigrant who is swept up in a bizarre and magical adventure that has her exploring other universes and connecting with the lives she could have led.

The film has been praised for its strong cast, hypnotic visuals and moving plot.

Yeoh’s Golden Globe win has added to the film’s extensive list of awards. Her co-star, Ke Huy Quan, also won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.

So far, the film has raked in 172 awards, including the Saturn Award for Best Film, the AFI Award for Movie of the Year, the Golden Elm Award at the Allywood Film Critics Association Awards, Best Foreign Language Feature Film at Norway’s Amanda Awards, as well as Best Original Screenplay at the Black Film Critics Circle Awards.

Yeoh and Quan also won the prizes for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively at the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, the EDA Awards and the Saturn Awards.

Who is Michelle Yeoh?

Yeoh leapt into the spotlight after she was crowned Miss World Malaysia in 1983. That same year, she participated in the Miss World pageant in London.

Her career in entertainment began after she starred in a TV commercial opposite Jackie Chan. She then began acting and performing her own stunts in a series of Hong Kong action and martial arts films, including Yes, Madam (1985), Police Story 3: Supercop (1992) and Holy Weapon (1983).

She then garnered international recognition after appearing in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies and the 2000 Ang Lee film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which earned her a Bafta nomination.

In 2008, Rotten Tomatoes ranked Yeoh as the greatest action heroine of all time.

Her other works include Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011) and The Lady (2011), in which she portrayed Burmese politician and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. She has also appeared in the hit romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians (2018), as well as the Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).

During her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, Yeoh spoke about how difficult it was establishing herself in Hollywood, after already becoming a star in Asia.

“When I first came to Hollywood, it was a dream come true … until I got here. I came here and was told, ‘You’re a minority'," she said.

She persevered and began working with some of the most respected filmmakers in the industry. Yet, as she grew older, her opportunities began to dwindle.

“I thought, ‘Hey, come on girl. You had a really, really good run,'” she said. Then came Everything Everywhere All at Once, which catapulted her back into the spotlight.

“Thank you A24 for believing in these two goofy, insanely smart, wonderful geniuses, [directors Kwan and Scheinert], who had the courage to write about a very ordinary immigrant, ageing woman, mother, daughter,” she said.

“I was given this gift of playing this woman who resonated so deeply with me and with so many people because, at the end of the day, in whatever universe she was at, she was fighting for love, for her family.

“This is also for all the shoulders that I stand on, all who came before me, who look like me, and all who are going on this journey with me forward."

Scroll through the gallery below to see other Golden Globes 2023 winners

Updated: January 11, 2023, 7:20 AM