When Michelle Yeoh speaks, the rest of us listen. She gave us a reminder at the Golden Globes tonight while accepting the award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.
As Everything everywhere at once star gave her acceptance speech, the closing music started playing, but she wasn’t done with her speech yet. “Shut up, please,” she said, turning her attention away from the stage as the first few notes began to play. “I can beat you, okay? And it’s serious.” If you’ve seen her inside Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Supercop, Wing Chunor any of her action films (including Everything everywhere), you know she doesn’t mess around.
On a more serious note, Yeoh looked back on the struggles she faced in her 40-year career, especially as a minority in her early years in Hollywood (“Someone said to me, ‘You speak English!'” she recalled) . Having turned 60 last year, she also shed light on the very relatable challenges of aging and confronting old age, in the entertainment industry and beyond. “I think all of you women understand this, as the days, years and numbers get bigger, it seems the options start to get smaller as well,” she said.
Read Yeoh’s full speech below, which is equal parts inspiring, funny and a little scary – just like the actress herself.
I just want to stand here and take it all in. Forty years. Not letting go of this. So just a quick thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press, for giving me this honor. It’s been an amazing journey and an incredible fight to be here today, but I think it’s been worth it. I remember when I first came to Hollywood; it was a dream come true until i got here because look at this face. I came here and was told, “you’re a minority,” and I say, “no, that’s not possible.” And then someone said to me, “You speak English!” I mean, forget about them not knowing Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Asia, India. And then I said, “Yeah, the flight here was about 13 hours long, so I learned that.”
As time went on… I turned 60 last year and I think all of you women understand this, as the days, years and numbers get bigger, it seems the options start to get smaller too. And it was probably at a point where I thought, “Well, come on girl, you’ve had a really, really good run. You worked with some of the best people: Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Danny Boyle, so that’s good. All is well.” Then came the best gift: Everything everywhere at once.
[music starts playing] Shut up, thanks. I can beat you, okay? And it is serious.
Thank you A24, Ley Line for believing in these two silly, insanely smart, wonderful geniuses, Daniels, who had the guts to write about a very ordinary, immigrant, Asian woman, mother, daughter trying to do her revision . She was audited by the IRS played by the most amazing Jamie Lee Curtis, I love you. I was given this gift to play this woman who resonated so deeply with me and with so many people. Because at the end of the day, no matter what universe she was in, she was just fighting, fighting for the love of her family. And Evelyn Wang was nobody [without] Ke Huy Quan, Waymond Wang, and there was no joy in her life without Stephanie Hsu, the most amazing Stephanie Hsu. And my hot dog lover, Jamie Lee Curtis. To Jonathan Wang, my producer, thank you for being with us all the way, my managers, David Unger and Kit Wong, who believed in me.
And this is for all the shoulders that I stand on, all who came before me, who are like me, and all who will be on this journey with me going forward. So thank you for believing in us. Thank you.
Erica Gonzales is Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, film, music, books and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There’s a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now.