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For the first time in history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role to a self-identified Asian actress, Michelle Yeoh. This groundbreaking achievement comes after 95 years of the Academy’s existence, and Yeoh’s win for her role in ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ marks a significant step forward for representation in the film industry.

In the film, Yeoh portrays Evelyn Wang, the first-generation Chinese immigrant and owner of a laundromat. Her character is the center of the film’s absurdist multiverse, around which the plot revolves. Yeoh’s performance received critical acclaim, culminating in her historic win.

During her acceptance speech, Yeoh dedicated her award to “all the little boys and girls who look like me tonight,” stating that her win is “proof that dreams do come true.” She also used the platform to encourage women not to let anyone tell them they are “past their prime.”

It is worth noting that the caveat “who identifies as Asian” was necessary for Yeoh’s win. Two actresses, Merle Oberon and Vivien Leigh, chose to pass as white despite their Asian ancestry. On the other hand, previous winners with Western Asian ancestry, including Cher, Salma Hayek, and Natalie Portman, do not identify as Asian.

Yeoh’s win is a significant step forward for representation and diversity in the film industry. In her speech, she dedicated the award to her mother, whom she called a “superhero.” The momentous occasion will undoubtedly inspire and pave the way for future generations of Asian actors and actresses to pursue their dreams and tell their stories on the big screen.

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