“She’s Asian” started to catch on when some people believed that NPR’s messages were diminishing the triumph of women of color.
Michelle Yeoh’s historic Oscar win is attracting attention everywhere at the same time.
The “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star was congratulated by NPR’s official Twitter page as part of a breaking news story. However, the public is taking issue with the wording of NPR’s post.
NPR tweeted: “BRET: Michelle Yeoh to receive Oscar for best actress makes history as first Asian-identified person to win award.”
Twitter added a context card: “Tweet is factually correct, but lacks context explanation. Merle Oberon was the first Asian woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1935. Oberon hid his heritage to avoid discrimination. But Michelle Yeoh is open about her Asian heritage.”
However, Oberon is not featured in the linked NPR article, and the late actress did not win the award, making “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star Yeoh the first Asian star to win the best actress award.
NPR’s tweet about the word “identify” immediately drew backlash, with reporters writing “WTH” and fans wondering how Yeoh could possibly “hide” his heritage. “He’s Asian” started trending, with over 18,000 tweets in response, with many believing the tweet was an attempt to diminish his historic victory.
During awards season, Yeoh talked about what it would mean to be the first Asian actress to win the award.
“This is actually a historic moment,” Yeoh said backstage in the Oscars press room. “So I really have to thank the Academy for recognizing and embracing diversity and true representation. I think that’s what we’ve been working hard for for a very long time, and tonight we frickin’ broke that glass ceiling. I took it out and smashed it.
He continued: “And we need this because there are so many people who felt invisible, unheard. This is not just the Asian community – this is for anyone who has ever identified as a minority. We deserve to be heard, we deserve to be seen, we deserve to have equal opportunities to sit at the table. That’s all we ask. Give us this chance, let us prove that we are worth it.”
Yeoh previously told IndieWire that as an Asian actress, she feels a “responsibility” to represent her heritage and community on screen. “For us (it was) the name change. If you want to make sure that distributors or buyers will buy the film, you should give them a Caucasian name instead,” said Yeoh, who was born Yeoh Choo Kheng. “We all added an English name instead of just using our own names because we understood at the time that it made things easier. It would make it more acceptable.”
Now, “Times have changed,” he said. “We have changed. The audience, the people, everyone. People who make movies, people who watch movies, the whole world has turned into “we accept each other”. Yes, we are different, but we are the same. We are still people of the world.”
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