Michelle Yeoh

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, every school day The Cardinal will feature a prominent and historical Asian American or Pacific Islander, living or dead, who has worked toward change, advancement, and/or world peace. Some of them are heroes, and some are unsung heroes, who deserve recognition, and have made a contribution to society.


Chloe Ly, Senior Writer

Michelle Yeoh was born on August 6, 1962, in Ipoh, Malaysia. Ever since she was four years old, she has enjoyed dance and started with ballet. Later at 15 years old, she moved to the U.K. with her parents and began to train as a ballet dancer at The Hammond School, Chester. She expanded her endeavors in dance by majoring in ballet at the Royal Academy of Dance. However, Michelle could not pursue her dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer due to a spinal injury. As a result, she shifted gears and would later take on acting where she rose to fame.

Prior to Michelle’s career in acting, she participated in multiple beauty pageants such as Miss World in 1983 and Miss Moomba International in 1984, which she won. Although her career in pageantry was short-lived, Michelle’s acting career emerged in the 1980s by starring in Hong Kong action and martial arts films, like Yes Madam (1985) and Magnificent Warriors (1987). She was distinguished for performing a majority of her own stunts. However, soon after her marriage to the D&B group’s founder, Dickson Poon, she retired from acting in 1987. In 1991, she divorced Poon and returned to her acting career with the film, Police Story 3: Super Cop (1992). After her return, she appeared in multiple films before making her debut in Hollywood in 1997 with the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. Following her appearance, she received words of praise from others in the industry and gained international recognition.

A trailblazer for Asian Americans to look up to, Michelle made history in her lead role as Evelyn Wang in the hit movie, Everything Everywhere All At Once. Through her extravagant performance in the film, she won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, making her the first Asian woman to win any individual lead film category in the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Additionally, she became the first Asian to win the Oscars Academy Award for Best Actress and won her first Golden Globe for this role. Not only is Michelle Yeoh making history with her outstanding achievements as an actress, but she is also making a difference in the world through her activism. As a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNDP and WildAid, she advocates for wildlife and environmental conservation as well as the protection of the endangered South China tiger. Overall, an inspiration to all, her activism also covers health and well-being issues through organizations like Live to Love and American Foundation for AIDS Research, where she promotes awareness for topics such as AIDS and road safety.