Groundbreaking movie star Anna May Wong to be first Asian American featured on US currency
LOS ANGELES – When Anna May Wong was nominated for an Oscar five decades ago, she was a stunning young Asian American starlet who sang in a karaoke club in Beverly Hills. Now she is a Hollywood legend, starring in blockbuster films like Thelma & Louise and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Wong, 58, has been working hard to advance Asian-American equality in Hollywood for decades, and the first time she sees it is via the dollar bill. The actress is featured on the front and back of the $1.25-bill, which will cost at least $100 in new banknotes that replaced the country’s $1- and $2-tied currency around midnight Thursday.
“We have so many films to choose from in Hollywood that are set in the 1940s and we were thinking we would just put the year of the film, but on the back is a movie star [who is] Asian-American,” actress Anna May Wong told The Times-Picayune after the ceremony. “I was so happy that my parents gave me the dollar bill that day.”
Wong is not the first actress to be featured on U.S. currency; other Asian-Americans include Chinggis Khaan of Mongolian features The Man Who Knew Too Much and Jackie Chan, who starred in John Woo’s movie, From Dusk Till Dawn.
“It’s a celebration of the film industry in the United States,” she said. “Hopefully, it makes our contribution to show that we are making a difference. … Hopefully, the dollar bill can be a reminder for us to show our films here, and help to show that it is okay to be in the movie industry.”
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Wong has been nominated three times for Best Supporting Actress in Hollywood for Thelma & Louise, and in her most recent films, she’s received two nominations this year for her roles in The Fighter and The Conjuring.
She’s had a storied career that includes appearances in a few other films, including the original Rocky and Young Guns II.