This morning, one icon crowned another: Time named the venerable, stunning, badass Michelle Yeoh as its Icon of the Year, a move we can only quantify as DUH. JoySauce contributor and fashion photographer extraordinaire Michelle Watt shot the remarkable images.
Yeoh has been a household name in Asia for decades, practically since she got her start making Hong Kong action movies in the ‘80s. And though the 60-year-old Malaysian actress has starred in prominent Hollywood films before—Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Crazy Rich Asians to name just two—this was really the year that America finally took note, in her role as Evelyn Wang in the epic Everything Everywhere All At Once (read our review here).
The buzz is that she may be up for an Oscar—nominations will be announced Jan. 24. A win would make her the first Asian woman named Best Actress. In the Time profile, senior editor Lucy Feldman writes:
Yeoh is carrying an added weight in this year’s Academy Awards race: the understanding that victory for her would be received by Asians everywhere as victory for them too... ‘I’ve thought about it,’ she admits. ‘And not just me—I feel like my full Asian community has thought about it. They come up to me and they say, ‘You’re doing it for us.’”
(Watch Yeoh talking about “women taking control of their destiny” and more here.)
Feldman also calls attention to the way Yeoh has deftly navigated the film industry’s complicated dynamics, choosing to ignore the fast track to stardom for Asian actresses in the U.S.—turning down “the kind of roles the industry could imagine for someone who looked like her.” This means she rejected anything “that perpetuated harmful tropes about Asian woman,” which meant that she went three years between her role in Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. We love when class and integrity pay off.
We are absolutely here for the reign of Yeoh, now and forever. We can’t wait to see what she’s got in store for viewers next (even if it means going to see the new Avatar).
Published on December 6, 2022
Words by Chelsea Lin
Chelsea Lin is JoySauce's Seattle-based managing editor and a lifelong storyteller (read: loudmouth). She loves memoirs, bold patterns and bright colors, travel (armchair or otherwise), and dessert—always dessert.