At the 95th Oscars, Michelle Yeoh made history with her Best Actress win for her performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once. Beating out competition from the likes of two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, who was up for the award for Tar, Yeoh became the first woman from an Asian background to win the prize, and the second ever non-white recipient since Halle Berry in 2002.
While her performance in Everything Everywhere All At Once has, rightfully, garnered a lot of attention, Yeoh has enjoyed an illustrious career in front of the camera spanning decades - this is everything you need to know.
Who is Michelle Yeoh?
Yeoh is a Malaysian actor who was born on 6 August 1962 in Ipoh, which is the capital city of the Malaysian state Perak. She grew up speaking Malay and English and, in a 2022 interview with Vanity Fair, said that “not learning how to read or write in Chinese” was her “greatest regret”.
Yeoh and her family moved to the UK when she was 15, where she was enrolled at an all girls boarding school in England before then studying ballet at the Royal Academy of Dance in London. However, Yeoh’s dancing dreams were cut short due to a spinal injury and as a result, she focused her efforts on choreography and other arts. She graduated with a BA degree in creative arts with a minor in drama in 1982.
When Yeoh was 20 years old, she won the Miss Malaysia World competition and was the representative for Malaysia at the Miss World 1983 pageant in London where she placed 18th overall amid the 72 entrants. Yeoh also won the Miss Moomba International 1984 pageant in Australia.
After appearing in a TV advert with Jackie Chan, Yeoh caught the attention of D&B Films, a Hong Kong film production company, and her career as an actor took off.
She married Dickson Poon, who headed up the D&B Group, in 1987 and actually retired from acting for a few years - she made her return to the industry after she and Poon divorced in 1992.
Yeoh is currently engaged to Jean Todt, after the two first started dating in 2004. She announced their engagement during an interview with Craig Ferguson in 2008, and the pair live together in Geneva, Switzerland.
What has Michelle Yeoh been in?
Yeoh has enjoyed a career which has spanned decades, beginning with action and martial arts films where she was credited under the name Michelle Khan. The name was picked by D&B Films who thought it was more marketable to both international and western audiences.
She rose to fame in the late 80s and 90s thanks to performances in the likes of Yes, Madam (1985), Police Story 3: Supercop (1992) and Holy Weapon (1993), action films in which she did all of her own stunts. She also starred in the Yuen Woo-ping films Tai Chi Master (1993) and Wing Chun (1994).
After making the move to the US, Yeoh changed her stage name back to Yeoh and garnered attention for her roles in the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, The Soong Sisters (1997) and Ang Lee’s iconic martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). In 2008, Yeoh starred alongside her fellow future Oscar winner Brendan Fraser in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
In 2018, she starred as Eleanor Young in Crazy Rich Asians, a film adaption of the book of the same name, and in 2021 she joined the MCU in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings with Simu Liu.
Then, in 2022, she starred in hugely successful Everything Everywhere All At Once, for which she won the Best Actress Oscar.
Other films you likely recognise Yeoh from include Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Fearless (2006), Sunshine (2007), Babylon A.D (2008), The Lady (2011) and Last Christmas (2019). You may also recognise her voice as Soothsayer in Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011), Master Chow in Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022) and Yuki in Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (2022).
Her TV credits also include Strike Back: Legacy, Marco Polo, Star Trek: Discovery and The Witcher: Blood Origin.