The journey to clinching an Oscar was a long and tiring one for Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh.
“It was a roller-coaster ride that started last year when Everything Everywhere All at Once came out in March last year,” she said during a press conference at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur Hotel.
Yeoh said it was a whole year of not knowing, hoping, wanting and wishing.
“Finally, closer to the end of the year we heard mumblings that our movie had such great opportunities to be nominated.”
The 60-year-old admitted that it was the first time that she had any hope to be included at the table to have a conversation about why these kinds of roles are so important for people “looking like us”.
“There’s been so little representation [for us] for far too long,” Yeoh made history last month after becoming the first Malaysian and Asian to win the Best Actress award at the 95th Academy Awards.
She was honoured with the Best Actress in a Leading Role award for Everything Everywhere All at Once at Hollywood’s most prestigious award ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
Yeoh said during the journey, everyone was asking if she wanted the Oscar.
“My answer was hell yes, of course, I want the Oscar.
“It is because represents so much to so many of us, and I must say that I heard the roar of joy and happiness all across the world to Los Angeles.”
The 60-year-old actress also thanked everyone who supported her adding that she felt so much support and love from her fans throughout the journey.
“I thank all of you for having been on that journey with me because it was a difficult and long journey,” said Yeoh while choking on emotions.
Yeoh returned to Malaysia yesterday for a public meet-and-greet session with her fans.
She is scheduled to meet her fans at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and Berjaya Times Square later at 5.30pm and 7.15pm respectively.
Yeoh believes the Malaysian film industry has much potential to excel on the global stage.
She said today Malaysia has many stories to be told and be in the international entertainment scene.
“We have to be bold and courageous to know and believe in ourselves that we can.”
Yeoh advised Malaysian filmmakers not to limit themselves only to the local market but instead think globally.
“When you make a movie, it should be global.
“I know there are amazing filmmakers from this part of our world but we have to create opportunities and platforms for them to showcase their talent,” said Yeoh.
She also advised aspiring actors and actresses to always show up and never give up in a bid to make their breakthroughs in the industry.
“For me, I kept looking and looking for the role and the team that believed we deserve the place, deserved to be seen and be heard in this way.”
She hopes to produce a film that will combine the best of Malaysia and the West.
“I believe in thinking big and going all out to achieve my dreams. Anything is possible if we put our heart and soul into it.
“And it’s always been one of my dreams to make a movie that’s a Malaysian and Hollywood collaboration. Our country has many interesting and inspiring stories to share with movie fans worldwide,” said Yeoh.
Even though Yeoh found fame in Hong Kong and Hollywood, she has always followed developments in Malaysian entertainment closely.
In fact, she is delighted to know that Malaysian films have premiered in international film festivals to critical acclaim over the last two decades.
“I’ve always believed in the Malaysia Boleh spirit. We can do it! And the success and hard work of many of our filmmakers is testament to this.”
Yeoh said that her lifelong mission in entertainment was to fight for greater representation of Asians in showbiz and promote greater empowerment of women via films.
She admitted that being Malaysian was a blessing because Malaysia’s multi-racialism made her “broad minded with an international outlook”.
When asked if she had plans to be a director, Yeoh said that she would rather be a producer as directors “did not have much free time”.
Yeoh said that she had plans to make a movie in Hong Kong in the next few years, as the territory was the place which kick-started her journey to stardom.
“I have lived in Hong Kong for a very long time, so the place is like a second home to me,” she said.
Meanwhile, Yeoh said since coming home she has already eaten some of her favourite dishes, including nasi lemak, curry mee and nga choy kai.