Michelle Yeoh gets Medal of Freedom

M’sian receives highest US civilian award

PETALING JAYA: Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh has been recognised for her role in “shattering stereotypes and glass ceilings” with the United States’ highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Malaysian superstar received the award from US President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington DC on Friday.

It’s another feather in the cap for the actress who swept major Hollywood acting accolades last year for her role in the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, also notably becoming the first Asian to win an Academy Award for Best Actress.

In presenting her with the medal, Biden said that for decades Yeoh has “shattered stereotypes and glass ceilings to enrich and enhance American culture”.

“Her 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 actor to win an Oscar as Best Actress, she bridges cultures to not only to entertain, but also inspire and open hearts and that’s what she keeps doing. Congratulations,” he said.

Yeoh later posted a picture of the ceremony on her Instagram account, as well as another photo of her being accompanied by a military officer.

The post saw thousands of comments, including those from Malaysia, congratulating her on the award.

With this latest honour, Yeoh, 61, who received the medal along with 18 others, has joined the ranks of those who have been given the highest US civilian award.

In March last year, Yeoh made history as the first Asian and Malaysian to take home an Oscar for her starring role as a laundromat owner and immigrant grappling with family and tax issues, as well as multi-dimensional travel and kung-fu challenges, in Everything Everywhere All At Once.

The White House had said in its introduction of Yeoh at the ceremony that her efforts to advance 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 inspires us to believe in possibilities on the big screen and beyond,” it said.

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

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

Other recipients included former US senator Elizabeth Dole, former vice-president Al Gore, one-time secretary of state John Kerry, and the previous New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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