Michelle Yeoh had quite the journey from working overseas to America, and that success in Hollywood led to stereotypical roles offered to her. In an interview with People, she recalled her long career with all of its ups and downs.
Being 1983’s Miss Malaysia winner, joining forces with Jackie Chan in The Owl vs. Bumbo and Supercop, Michelle Yeoh received enough attention for her international roles that she booked a major gig in America. She was in Tomorrow Never Dies with Pierce Brosnan, which she countered every other woman in a James Bond film with her spy, Wai Lin. Although this was groundbreaking not to have a Bond Girl as a helpless love interest, Michelle Yeoh had a stretch of time not working due to roles that were stereotypical and racist.
“At that point, people in the industry couldn’t really tell the difference between whether I was Chinese or Japanese or Korean or if I even spoke English. They would speak very loudly and very slowly. I didn’t work for almost two years, until Crouching Tiger, simply because I could not agree with the stereotypical roles that were put forward to me.”
Michelle Yeoh overcame stereotypical roles and is now an Oscar nominee
After Crouching Tiger, things start to look up for Michelle Yeoh with more constant work and better roles. She starred in 2005’s Memoirs of a Geisha, which won three Oscars. In 2008, she joined Brendan Fraser for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon for another Hollywood blockbuster adventure. In 2011, audiences got to hear her in an animated film with Kung Fu Panda 2. Each year since the 2000s and early 2010s has gotten busier and busier.
In recent years, Michelle Yeoh has found a stride in her roles that has put her at the top of her game, from rom-coms like Crazy Rich Asians to continuing her legacy as an action star with Gunpowder Milkshake, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Everything Everywhere All at Once, which she is nominated for Best Actress.
The star has a stacked line of films to keep her busy in the future. She will star in the Avatar sequels, the upcoming fantasy film Da nao donghai, the twist on The Wizard of Oz with Wicked, ARK: The Animated Series, American Born Chinese, and more. She most recently starred in The Witcher prequel series Blood Origin.