Michelle Yeoh says Oscars win is 'a beacon of hope and possibilities' for 'all the little boys and girls who look like me'
Michelle Yeoh just made history.
On Sunday, Yeoh became the first Asian actress to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
The category is usually presented by the previous year's Best Actor winner but since Will Smith — who won last year for King Richard — was banned from attending the Oscars for the next decade after slapping Chris Rock during the 2022 broadcast, show producers had last year's Best Actress winner Jessica Chastain and Halle Berry — who became the first Black woman to win Best Actress in 2002 for Monster's Ball — jointly hand out the trophy to Yeoh.
"For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities," she began her acceptance speech. "This is proof that ... dream big, and dreams do come true. And, ladies, don't let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime."
Yeoh went on to thank the cast and crew of the film, including its dual directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who won the Oscar for Best Directing and Best Original Screenplay.
Michelle Yeoh accepts the Oscar for Best Actress for her outstanding performance in 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' #Oscars #Oscars95 pic.twitter.com/fIDMBH1rEy
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) March 13, 2023
Pausing to take a breath, Yeoh went on to acknowledge other important people in her life.
"I have to dedicate this to my mom [and] all the moms in the world, because they are really the superheroes, and without them none of us would be here tonight," she said.
"She’s 84," the actress noted of her mom, "I’m taking this home to her. She’s watching right now in Malaysia ... with my family and friends: I love you guys! I’m bringing this home to you." She also thanked her "extended family in Hong Kong, where I started my career. Thank you for letting me stand on your shoulders, giving me a leg up so I can be here today."
Janet Yeoh, mother of Michelle Yeoh, celebrates during a live viewing at a cinema in Malaysia after her daughter won the Oscar for best actress.
“I have to dedicate this to my mom and all the moms in the world,” Michelle Yeoh said during her speech. https://t.co/ZZrf9Ix6hH pic.twitter.com/nzT6mkfi1x
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 13, 2023
Finally, "To my god children, to my sisters, all of them, to my brothers," she concluded. "To my family, thank you. Thank you. Thank you to the Academy. This is history in the making. Thank you!"
Yeoh's win was certainly historic, as she was the first Asian-identifying performer to be nominated in the lead actress category. (As noted on the Academy's website, Merle Oberon, who was of Sri Lankan and Māori descent, was previously nominated in the category for 1935's The Dark Angel; however, Oberon kept her heritage hidden due to fear that it would hinder her career.)
Yeoh joins castmates Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis, both of whom were first-time Oscar nominees and first-time winners during the ceremony.