The nomination of michelle yeoh to the awards Oscar 2023 hides stories of actresses with oriental roots who lived, on and off the sets, the discrimination of a film industry that never wanted them, but did need them. Artists like Merle Oberon, the first Asian woman to be nominated for the Best Actress category in 1936, bear witness to this tragedy.
Estelle Merle O’Brien Thompson He was born in India, living a large part of his adolescence in the city of Calcutta. The daughter of a British emigrant and a mother originally from Ceylon, present-day Sri Lanka, she entered acting at her local Amateur Theater Society during the 1920s. At the age of 17, and with a taste for the interpreter Vilma Bánky, He traveled with his family to England, where he had his first appearance in the comedy “Alf’s Button” (1930), directed by WO Kellino.
Her next two films were “The Private Life of Henry VIII” (1933) and “The Scarlet Pimpernel” (1935), both directed by her first husband, Alexander Korda. At that time, rumors about the actress’s origins, and her media pressure, led her to create an origin story for her that positioned her as a woman of noble lineage from Tasmania (Australia).
The following year, the new version of “The Angel of Darkness” (1936)the same film that inspired her to join acting, would lead her to be nominated for an Oscar in the Best Actress category for her performance as Kitty Vane, a woman in love with a soldier sent to war and comes back different.
However, it would not be until 1939 that his professional career would be consolidated by starring in “Wuthering Heights” along with actor Laurence Olivier. His career continued with films such as “Lydia” (1941), “What women think” (1941), “Jack the Ripper” (1944), “Berlin Express” (1948), “24 Hours in the Life of a woman” (1952) “Desirée” (1954), among others.
The constant questions about his nationality ended when the He died of a heart attack at the age of 68. in Malibu, California (United States). Later, the book “Princess Merle: The Romantic Life of Merle Oberon” (1983) revealed his original birth certificate, while the 2002 documentary called “The Trouble with Merle” discovered that his servant was actually Merle’s grandmother. he.
a side story
Another actress who came close to winning an Oscar was Anna May Wongdaughter of two Chinese immigrants considered Hollywood’s first Asian star and that now appears in the new coins of 25 cents of dollar in the United States.
He began in the cinema with his participation in “The Tool of the Sea” (1922), continuing with medium-success films until reaching his most outstanding work in 1932, “The Shanghai Express”. A few years later, she was not able to be part of the film “The Good Earth” (1937) because, according to the MGM production company, she was “too Chinese to play a Chinese woman”, so they invited the German actress Luise Rainer who would win the Oscar for Best Actress for playing an Asian woman.
In his artistic career the same racism prevailed who avoided his colleague merle oberon by hiding her Asian ties, a decision that Anna May did not share, because after several disagreements with Hollywood producers, she decided to try her luck in China itself. She did not do well there.
A new phase appeared for the actress when she was offered to star in the first television series centered on an Asian character, “The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong” (1951), where she played a prestigious art gallery owner who investigates crimes, a plot that departed from his recurring roles. Despite the fact that the series already had ten episodes broadcast, all the material related to the existence of the project was dumped at the bottom of the Hudson River. Other events, such as the disapproval of his father, the death of his mother, and the suicide of his little sister fueled a picture of depression. The actress died at the age of 56 with alcoholism problems and leaving behind more than 60 films.
A similar, and recent, case is that of the actress of Chinese descent Chloe Bennet (“Agents of SHIELD”), who changed her last name Wang to Bennet in response to racism in Hollywood. She said that the industry did not give her papers because her original last name made them uncomfortable.
the malaysian artist michelle yeoh participates in the 95th edition of the Academy Awards in the category of Best Actress for playing Evelyn Quan, a Chinese immigrant in the United States involved in a plot of multiverses in the film “Everything everywhere at the same time”.
With a long career, the 60-year-old artist has successful films and awards such as her Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. His Oscar nomination marks a historic moment for the interpreters of Asian descent, representing their predecessors who, for the reasons explained above, could not be fully themselves under the Hollywood spotlight.
I have worked as a journalist for over 10 years and have written for various news outlets. I currently work as an author at 24 News Recorder, mostly covering entertainment news. I have a keen interest in the industry and enjoy writing about the latest news and gossip. I am also a member of the National Association of Journalists.