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Michelle Yeoh gives emotional acceptance speech after winning Golden Globe for 'Everything Everywhere All at Once'

The accolade makes Yeoh the second Asian actor to win in the category, with the first being Awkwafina in 2019.
In this handout photo provided by NBCUniversal Media, LLC, Michelle Yeoh accepts the Best Actress in a Motion Picture  Musical or Comedy award for "Everything Everywhere All at Once" onstage during the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California.
Michelle Yeoh accepts the Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy award for "Everything Everywhere All at Once" onstage during the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, on Tuesday.Rich Polk / NBC

Michelle Yeoh won the Golden Globe for best actress in a motion picture comedy or musical. 

Yeoh took home the award Tuesday for her starring role in the psychedelic comedy drama “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” 

“Whew! OK. I’m just gonna stand here and take this all in,” she said. “Forty years, not letting go of this. So just quickly, thank you Hollywood Foreign Press for giving me this honor. It’s been an amazing journey and incredible fight to be here today, but I think it’s worth it.”

The accolade makes Yeoh the second Asian actor to win in the category, with the first being Awkwafina in 2020 for “The Farewell.”

Yeoh beat out Lesley Manville for “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” Margot Robbie for “Babylon,” Anya Taylor-Joy for “The Menu,” and Emma Thompson for “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.” 

In her speech, she reflected on her career.

“As time went by — I turned 60 last year — and I think all of you women understand this as the days, years, numbers get bigger, the opportunities get smaller, as well,” she said. “Then along came the best gift: ‘Everything, Everywhere All at Once.’”

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While this is Yeoh’s first Golden Globe nomination and win, her performance in the film as Evelyn Wang — the Chinese immigrant owner of a collapsing laundromat who’s tasked with saving the multiverse from destruction — has drawn dozens of award nominations, including from the Independent Spirit Awards and the Hollywood Critics Association. And Yeoh’s name frequently comes up in discussions around worthy Oscar contenders. 

The actor’s popularity has skyrocketed among mainstream Western audiences in recent years following her performance as icy matriarch Eleanor Young in the blockbuster hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” as well as her work as Ying Nan, guardian of mystical village Ta Lo in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” But “Everything Everywhere” marked the first film in which many fans and critics felt Yeoh was given proper recognition for her acting prowess. 

In her acceptance speech, Yeoh recounted how she wasn’t always accepted in the industry.

“When I first came to Hollywood, it was a dream come true until I got here. Because look at this face,” she said. “Someone said to me ‘You speak English?’ I mean, forget about them not knowing Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Asia, India. And then I said, ‘Yeah, the flight here was about 13 hours long.’”

In a previous interview with NBC News, Yeoh, whose career spans decades and international film industries, said she felt “lucky” to be given the role at this point in her career, as an older actor. And in some ways, the diversity of characters she’s portrayed throughout the years prepared her for the role, in which she slips in and out of identities across various multiverses. 

For Yeoh, the film is also significant because of the familiarity of its depiction, albeit a bit unconventional, of the immigrant experience, she said. 

“This movie for me was such an homage to so many women like that around us who are sometimes invisible, who we take for granted,” she said. “There’s so many relatable things, and all because they were chasing the American dream. … We all know that it’s so hard. I think any immigrant that comes here will tell you how difficult it is and of sometimes failing and not being able to find it.”

Prior to her win, Yeoh had long established herself as an icon in Asia, rising to fame in Hong Kong’s golden age of cinema in the 1980s and '90s. Her roles, for many of which she would do her own stunts, largely challenged long-standing sexist tropes.