Michelle Yeoh and Jamie Lee Curtis defy Hollywood ageism by winning Oscars for ‘Everything Everywhere’ in their 60s

March 13, 2023, 12:04 PM UTC
Michelle Yeoh won the best actress Oscar for "Everything Everywhere All at Once."
Patrick T. Fallon—AFP/Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Janet Yellen makes the call to protect deposits at Silicon Valley Bank, a hearing in the mifepristone case is set for this week, and Michelle Yeoh shows that women are never “past their prime.” Have a productive Monday.

– Prime time. It was a good night to be part of the cast and crew of Everything Everywhere All At Once. The A24 film swept the Oscars, winning seven awards—including best picture, best supporting actress for Jamie Lee Curtis, and best actress for Michelle Yeoh.

“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities,” said Yeoh, who is the first Asian woman to win in the lead actress category.

“Ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime,” the longtime movie and action star added.

Michelle Yeoh won the best actress Oscar for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Patrick T. Fallon—AFP/Getty Images

This was Yeoh’s first nomination, at 60, for her role as Evelyn Wang, an immigrant who owns a laundromat and is at the center of the film’s multiverse plot. Yeoh has said the character was the role she’d been “waiting” for as she sought to continue her career as a lead actress but ran into the common struggle for Hollywood actresses of getting older and receiving smaller parts.

Curtis’s win on her first nomination also followed a long career. In her acceptance speech, the 64-year-old gave a shoutout to fans who have followed her career in genre movies, like the Halloween franchise, for decades.

While female actors are often the ones who are aged out of Hollywood, it’s not an experience totally exclusive to women. Ke Huy Quan, who struggled to find work as an Asian actor after his childhood acting career, clinched the best supporting acting statue for Everything Everywhere at 51. “They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me,” he said, sharing his story of spending time in a refugee camp as a child.

While it was a relatively uneventful ceremony—likely intentionally so after last year’s slap drama—another award stood out. Sarah Polley took home the best-adapted screenplay award for the script for Women Talking. The screenplay, adapted from the book of the same name by Miriam Toews, tells the story of a group of women from a conservative religious colony who decide whether to leave their community because of sexual violence.

“People who don’t agree on every single issue manage to sit together in a room and carve out a way forward together free of violence,” Polley said in her speech. “They do so not just by talking but also by listening.”

Emma Hinchliffe

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