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Michelle Yeoh honored as a trailblazer by Biden with Presidential Medal of Freedom

PETALING JAYA – Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Joe Biden for being the first Asian to win an Oscar for Best Actress.

In presenting her with the medal on May 3, Biden said that for decades Yeoh has “broken stereotypes and glass ceilings to enrich and improve American culture.”

“Their roles transcend gender, cultures and languages. From martial arts to romantic comedies to science fiction, to show us what we all have in common.”

As the first Asian actress to win an Oscar for Best Actress, “she bridges cultures not only to entertain, but also to inspire and open hearts, and that is what she continues to do. Congratulations,” Biden said.

With this, Yeoh, who received the medal along with 18 others, joined the ranks of those who have received America’s highest civilian award.

In March 2023, she made history as the first Asian and Malaysian to win an Oscar, for her role in the film Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Prior to this, the White House had said when introducing Yeoh at the ceremony that her efforts to promote gender equality, conservation issues and global health have been felt around the world.

“Equal parts performer and pioneer, Michelle Yeoh continues to enrich American culture and inspire us to believe in the possibilities on the big screen and beyond,” it said.

According to Reuters, Yeoh was on the list of recipients that gave special recognition to “firsts” in their fields.

They include Dr. Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman in space, and versatile athlete Jim Thorpe, who in 1912 became the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal.