By Natasha Joibi
Malaysian star Michelle Yeoh "ninja-kicked" yet another glass ceiling with her Best Actress win at the 95th Academy Awards for her starring role in the box office hit Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Being the first Malaysian and also the first Asian woman to win an Oscar, this girl from Ipoh has made history for all Asians and Malaysians alike.
Yet while it's her portrayal of universe-jumping Chinese American immigrant Evelyn Wang in Everything Everywhere All At Once that's elicited much praise, the truth is that Yeoh has been an established name for decades; from making an indelible mark in Hong Kong films to breaking into Hollywood as a Bond girl and going on to score star turns in, among others, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Memoirs of a Geisha, Crazy Rich Asians and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Importantly, too, Yeoh's isn’t the only Malaysian doing big things on the international stage.
Here's a look at a few others who have not just made impressive strides, but become household names.
Yuna — Singing Sensation
Yunalis Mat Zara'ai a.k.a. Yuna is a singer-songwriter like few others, with a musical style that cuts across genres and has earned her much praise and success both in Malaysia and the United States.
She has, to date, worked with Grammy-winning producer Pharrell Williams; performed at Lollapalooza, Coachella and South by Southwest (SXSW), and found herself in the company of pop luminaries like Beyoncé, Rihanna and John Legend when her album Chapters was included among Billboard's Best R&B Albums of 2016.
She’s even gone down in history as the first Malaysian to be nominated for a Black Entertainment Television (BET) award for her breakout single with Usher, Crush.
Incidentally, Yuna has openly spoken about maintaining her faith and hijab despite pressures for successful artistes to look a certain way.
Ronny Chieng — Jester Correspondent
A stand-up comedian who’s best known for his work on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Johor Bahru, Malaysia-born Ronny Chieng has come a long way. And if the stars align, he could be set to go even further.
A third culture kid who grew up in Singapore, moved to Australia to attend university, and then headed on to the US, Chieng wasn't always sure comedy was for him. But he eventually found his calling during his student days in Australia. And then caught the eye of Trevor Noah, who invited him to perform at a comedy fest in 2013, and later enlisted him for The Daily Show.
Now, Chieng finds himself with starring roles in Hollywood movies (he was in Crazy Rich Asian and Shang-Chi with Michelle Yeoh) and two Netflix stand-up specials under his belt.
And who knows? He might even be up for the job of Daily Show host. Fingers crossed.
Henry Golding — Bornean Heartthrob
Yet another Crazy Rich Asians alumnus, British-Malaysian Henry Golding rose to prominence after starring as debonair Nick Young in that award-winning film. And he’s been on an upward trajectory ever since, smashing barriers left, right and centre.
For example, he stands as being the first Asian to be made a GQ "Men of the Year" cover star.
Did you know, though, that this hairstylist-turned-heartthrob was born into the Iban tribe of Sarawak; an ethnic group on the island of Borneo? In fact, Golding's journey of self-discovery in his Iban homeland was documented in the Discovery series Surviving Borneo.
These days, however, it’s all about interesting film roles. Hence a long list of hits, that includes A Simple Favor, Last Christmas and The Gentlemen, and the actor jumping at the chance to demonstrate his action-acting prowess when he played the titular character in the G.I. Joe spinoff Snake Eyes.
Yet while the world does indeed appear to be Golding's oyster right now, with acting offers aplenty, he has had to shut down one persistent rumour — that he won't be the next James Bond.
Nigel Ng — Everybody's Asian Uncle
Uncle Roger is his stage name, and slagging off Jamie Oliver is his game.
Nigel Ng, in case you didn't already know, is a stand-up comedian, actor and YouTube star. But the guy really shot to fame when, at the height of the pandemic, he posted a savage reaction video to British cooking show host Hersha Patel draining rice using a colander. That’s when the overly-critical rice connoisseur known as Uncle Roger was born.
But while it is Ng's parody of an orange polo tee-wearing, old-fashioned Asian uncle that has gained him a global following of millions, he is an excellent comedian in his own right.
He's performed at comedy clubs and festivals around the UK, US, Australia, Singapore and of course, Malaysia. He even has his own comedy podcast called HAIYAA, where he, surprisingly, talks a lot about interior design.
Incidentally, bet you didn't know that Ng is an engineering grad who worked as a data scientist for various tech startups before pursuing comedy full-time.
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