Acting legend Michelle Yeoh recalled how she had to fight her way to success in her acting career during her speech at Elle’s 29th annual Women in Hollywood event on Monday.
Yeoh, who was one of the honorees at the star-studded event, looked back on her start in Hong Kong cinema and the struggles that came with pursuing her childhood dream. “When I was growing up, I loved going to the movies with my parents,” Yeoh shared with the audience at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. “I was transported and awestruck by the heroes and heroines, the humor, the heartbreak. It was magic for a little girl in Malaysia.”
The beloved actor then described “literally fighting my way into the film industry” as she had to train to “punch, kick, tumble, and fall… and then get up and do it all over again — take after take, film after film” as a budding Malaysian action star.
The fruits of her labor include memorable performances in international hits such as “Supercop,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Tomorrow Never Dies.”
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Yeoh had previously revealed that she nearly died while filming a scene in “Supercop” since she did her own stunts at the time. The skills she developed while training for those earlier films remain evident in her recent projects, such as the superhero blockbuster “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and the surreal hit “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Yeoh noted that she encountered a different kind of battle after transitioning to Hollywood, sharing that “in those days [Hollywood] didn’t have many women who looked like me or stories that echoed my culture.”
At the age of 60, Yeoh now looks back on her past struggles as a means to celebrate her and her peers’ successes.
“As women, we are told to take all the work we can when we are young because when we don’t look quite as good, or move quite as gracefully, the best years of our careers are behind us,” she said near the end of her speech.
“If that is true, how can a night like tonight be possible?” she continued. “There are many of us having the best times of our career well beyond our quote-unquote prime years. Which is why it still feels like a dream to be standing here with all of you.”
Yeoh similarly touched on the subject of aging in an earlier interview with Elle for the event, sharing that it is just something that one needs to accept.
“I might try to delay it a little bit with masks, good creams, lotions, and sunblock,” she said. “But a fact of life is that when you’re born, two things are guaranteed. You will age and then you will die. You might as well accept the whole process and enjoy it. Sometimes you can get a little help, like a laser treatment or whatever, but for me, less is more.”
Aside from Yeoh, this year’s Women in Hollywood event honored other industry superstars such as Ariana DeBose, Anne Hathaway, Issa Rae, Sydney Sweeney, Sigourney Weaver and Olivia Wilde.