Oscars: Michelle Yeoh’s Historic Best Actress Win Celebrated by Hong Kong, Malaysia Film Industries – Hollywood Reporter

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“She has blazed a path for us all,” says rising Hong Kong actress Louise Wong, star of local blockbuster ‘A Guilty Conscience.’

A world away from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday night, industry leaders from across the Asian movie business were keeping regular tabs on the 95th Academy Awards ceremony via their phones at Hong Kong Filmart, the Eastern Hemisphere’s largest film trade show, eagerly awaiting news of whether regional screen legend Michelle Yeoh would make history as the first woman of Asian descent to win a best actress Oscar.
News of Yeoh’s triumph landed in Southern China at roughly 11 a.m. local time, sending the Malaysian and Hong Kong industry executives at Filmart into a private fits of celebration. Yeoh, who is Malaysian of Chinese descent, got her start during the golden era of the Hong Kong film industry in the 1980s and 1990s, and both Hong Kong and Malaysia have laid claim to her — sometimes contentiously — as a hometown hero. But on Monday, both industries were united in their joy over the actress’ accomplishment and what it means to a generation of Asian screen talent.

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“[Michelle Yeoh] has really blazed the path for us all,” rising Hong Kong actress Louise Wong, star of Anita (2019) and local blockbuster A Guilty Conscience (2022), told The Hollywood Reporter. “Now, there are more chances for Asian actresses and actors to try for international movies and TV series — to have more chances to perform, and for more people see them.”
“It’s a really proud moment,” added Tan Sook Joo, an executive at leading Malaysian film company Sunstrong Entertainment. “No Malaysian has ever received this level of recognition before.”
In the lead-up to the Oscars, Hong Kong and Malaysia got into a brief spat after Yeoh was nominated in the best actress category.
Responding to the news, Hong Kong government minister Kevin Yeung congratulated Yeoh on her nomination by saying, “Michelle Yeoh first made a name in the Hong Kong film sector, then moved on to the international stage with her exceptionally outstanding acting skills and hard work. … We are really empowered by the fact that Hong Kong actors have continued to shine in the global film industry.” 
Many Malaysians took instant umbrage with the bureaucrat’s framing. A wave of outcry spread across social media, with many in Kuala Lumpur asking how an actor’s career trajectory could come to redefine their nationality.

“Malaysia is now part of Hong Kong,” went one of the many viral tweets.
Yeoh did indeed rise to fame in Hong Kong, though, breaking through in classic action films like Yes, Madam and Policy Story 3: Supercop, in which she famously performed her own stunts. She later crossed over into Hollywood with her starring role opposite Pierce Brosnan in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Her career got another global boost thanks to her starring performance in Ang Lee’s now classic wuxia film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), which became the highest-grossing Hong Kong film in North America of all time.
On Monday at Filmart, though, the mood was one of celebration on all fronts.
“She’s a role model; she’s an incredible actress,” said Wong, who was nominated this year for Anita at the Asian Film Awards, the region’s own version of the Oscars. “When she went to Hollywood, there weren’t many Asian actresses there at that time. She’s very brave and you can see that she never gave up. She has always believed in herself and she just tried to prove to everyone that she could do it. It’s not about age or about being Asian, it comes down to if you’re good at your job. That is what Michelle is all about.”
Added Tan: “I think all Malaysias are simply thrilled today.”
See the star-studded Oscars red carpet arrivals.
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