Michelle Yeoh dedicates emotional speech at SAG Awards to ‘every little girl who looks like me’

Michelle Yeoh wins Best Female Actor at SAG Awards. (Getty)

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after Everything Everywhere All at Once star Michelle Yeoh delivered a powerful acceptance speech at the 2023 SAG Awards on the importance of representation.

The Everything Everywhere All At Once actor made history at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last night (26 February) with her win for best performance by a female actor in a leading role, becoming the first Asian woman to win a leading film acting award.

As an elated crowd gave the actress a standing ovation, she delivered an emotional acceptance speech recalling the long journey she’s been on to earn recognition.

“I think if I speak, my heart will explode,” Yeoh began. “SAG-AFTRA, to get this from you, who understand what it is to get here, every one of you knows the journey, the rollercoaster ride, the ups and downs, but, most important, we never give up.”

SAG-AFTRA is an American labour union that represents more than 160,000 actors and creatives across the industry.

“I thank you for your love, for your support, because I know I’m up against titans,” she continued, referring to her fellow nominees: Cate Blanchett (for Tár), Viola Davis (The Woman King), Ana de Armas (Blonde) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till).

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Caught up in the shock of the moment, she shouted: “S–t! F–k! Wow! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

She concluded her speech with a beautiful message echoing her Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards speeches, where she was candid about her experiences in navigating the industry as an Asian actor.

“This is not just for me, this is for every little girl that looks like me. Thank you for giving me a seat at the table because so many of us need this.

“We want to be seen, we want to be heard, and tonight you’ve shown us that it is possible, and I’m grateful. And my mom will be eternally grateful to you!”

Everything Everywhere All At Once won big at the SAG awards, breaking the record for the most awards ever won by a single film. This led to an equally stirring speech from Yeoh’s co-star Ke Huy Quan, who took home best supporting actor at the ceremony.

“This moment no longer belongs to me. It also belongs to everyone who has asked for change,” Quan said. “When I stepped away from acting, it was because there was so few opportunities.”

The actor shot to fame in 1984 after playing Harrison Ford’s young sidekick, Short Round, in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

“Now, tonight, here we are celebrating: James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Hong Chau, Harry Shum Jr,” he continued.

Yeoh’s 94-year-old co-star James Hong, who plays Gong Gong in the film and has been in the industry for 70 years, delivered an especially moving speech when the cast of the beloved movie took home the award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.

“Back in those days, the leading role was played by guys with their eyes taped up and they talk[ed] like this,” he said in an exaggerated accent, pointing to harmful stereotypes used against Asian communities.

“Producers said Asians [were] not good enough and not box office. But look at us now,” he continued, to the roars from the crowd.

Everyone showed their joy at the film’s success, not least Jamie Lee Curtis, who gave Yeoh a full kiss on the lips after herself picking up an award for best female actor in a supporting role.

And fans were moved too by Yeoh’s victory, especially after the BAFTAs, which saw an all-white winning line-up.

“I can’t stop singing her praises and y’all are probably tired. But I’ve been obsessed with Michelle Yeoh for a very long time” one fan wrote. “As long as I can remember. So, to see her get accolade after accolade… my heart is so happy today.”