Why Halle Berry presenting Michelle Yeoh with the Best Actress Oscar is such a big deal


Halle Berry (left) presents Michelle Yeoh with the award for best performance by an actress in a leading role for 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' at the Oscars on Sunday, March 12, 2023. Photo: AP

It’s 2023, and another Oscars ceremony is in the bag. The 95th Academy Awards wasn’t without its highlights, surprises and snubs.

One of the tearjerking moments was when Ke Huy Quan won Best Supporting Actor for Everything Everywhere All At Once, as the Vietnamese-American actor struggled in Hollywood after being a child star in the 1980s.

One of the most significant moments was when Jessica Chastain (who won Best Actress for The Eyes Of Tammy Faye last year) and Halle Berry (who became the first Black actress to win the award for Monster’s Ball in 2002) presented Michelle Yeoh with the Best Actress Oscar.

Why is it such a big deal? Well, Yeoh became the first Asian actress to win an Oscar for a lead role after years of Asian actresses – including herself – being historically shut out at the Academy Awards.

“If she does, I get to give her that,” Berry said during a champagne-coloured carpet interview, The Hollywood Reporter reported. “If I do, I’ll be a bigger mess than she is. Watch for it.”

Miyoshi Umeki won Best Supporting Actress for Sayonara in 1958 and Yuh-Jung Youn won in the same category for Minari in 2021, making Yeoh the third Asian actress to win an acting Oscar...period.

After presenting Best Actor to Brendan Fraser in The Whale, the pair of actresses honoured Yeoh with her Oscar. Berry, who replaced Will Smith in presenting the lead Oscars with Chastain, tearfully gave Yeoh a warm embrace, as she became only the second woman of color to win in the lead category.

Berry won Best Actress in 2002, becoming the first Black woman to do so. While Gabourey Sidibe, Viola Davis (twice!), Quvenzhané Wallis, Ruth Negga, Cynthia Erivo and Andra Day all have been nominated since then in the category – no other Black actress has won for a leading role since then.

Hence, that moment between Berry and Yeoh on Oscar night was historic. – Advance Local Media/Tribune News Service

Michelle Yeoh accepts the Best Actress award from Jessica Chastain and Halle Berry onstage. Photo: AFPMichelle Yeoh accepts the Best Actress award from Jessica Chastain and Halle Berry onstage. Photo: AFP

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