Michelle Yeoh delivered a powerful message for women in her Oscars acceptance speech, with many viewers convinced that she took a swipe at CNN anchor Don Lemon for his recent controversial comments.
Yeoh, 60, made history on Sunday night when she became the first Asian woman to win Best Actress at the 95th Academy Awards for her role as Evelyn Wang in A24’s “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”
The Malaysian actor opened her speech by encouraging young viewers to believe in their dreams — and telling women to never let anyone tell them they are “past their prime.”
“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is the beacon of hope and possibilities,” Yeoh said. “This is proof… [that] dreams do come true.”
She continued, “And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime. Never give up!”
Social media users quickly interpreted Yeoh’s remarks as a veiled jab at Lemon, who recently drew backlash for claiming that Asian American presidential candidate Nikki Haley is no longer in her prime.
“Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime, sorry,” Lemon declared on “CNN This Morning” on Feb. 16. “A woman is considered to be in their prime in her 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.”
Lemon, who is five years older than Haley, sparked outrage and accusations of ageism and sexism, as well as “liberal hypocrisy” by Haley herself. He skipped three broadcasts before returning with a promise of undergoing “formal training.”
Twitter users called out the CNN anchor in reaction to Yeoh’s speech.
“Someone check on Don Lemon,” one wrote.
Another commented, “MICHELLE YEOH CALLING OUT DON LEMON IS GIVING ME LIFE.”
“I loved Michelle Yeoh’s comment that no woman should ever let a man tell her she’s past her prime,” another said. “Take that Don Lemon!”
“Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you you are ever past your prime,” Michelle Yeoh in her #Oscars speech
Cc @donlemon pic.twitter.com/hYCZS15vza
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 13, 2023
Michelle Yeoh coming for Don Lemon was not on my #Oscar bingo card 😂
— Briahna Joy Gray (@briebriejoy) March 13, 2023
“And ladies, never let anybody tell you that you are past your prime”
AHAHHA MICHELLE YEOH SAID FUCK U DON LEMON !!!!!! #Oscars
— jenny (@jenniferryuma) March 13, 2023
Nice sly dig at Don Lemon’s “past your prime” line, #MichelleYeoh!!! #Oscar2023
— Robert A George (@RobGeorge) March 13, 2023
Michelle Yeoh’s Oscar speech was an obvious jab at Don Lemon.
— Rommel Lopez (@RommelFLopez) March 13, 2023
Take that Don Lemon 💅
I love Michelle Yeoh beyond words
— Anna Ivey (@AnnaIvey) March 13, 2023
Lololol @donlemon just got his ass handed to him to by Michelle Yeoh. So deserved. Lol.
— Megan Murphy (@meganmurp) March 13, 2023
However, Yeoh has referenced her supposed prime years in past interviews and speeches, many of which occurred before Lemon’s controversial remarks.
She made a similar reference during her speech at Elle’s 29th annual Women in Hollywood event in October 2022:
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.If that is true, how can a night like tonight be possible? 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’s historic speech on Sunday night ended with her dedicating her award to her mother in Malaysia. She received a standing ovation at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre, where fellow “Everything Everywhere All at Once” cast members Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis bagged Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
The A24 film, directed by duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, won Best Picture.