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Oscars 2023: Is it coming of age for the biggest cinema awards with dominant Asian reflection?

Oscars 2023: With the nomination of four Asian actors for the Oscar awards 2023 and finally Michelle Yeoh, a Korean winning the coveted best actor for her role in Everything Everywhere All at Once, and two awards coming in the kitty of India, is it some reflection of a window opening up for the world in west-dominated  Oscar citadel?  The 95th Academy Awards saw a historic Oscar haul for Asians and Asian Americans, marking a significant milestone for the entertainment industry. Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian artist to win Best Actress, breaking the barriers of  ‘prejudiced’ against the stereotypical Asian and Asian-American characters.

Record-breaking year for Asian nominees

This year, a record number of Asian nominations was seen across various categories such as songwriting, producing, and writing, spanning genres from animation to documentary. Also, the most number of actors of Asian descent were nominated for Oscars this year. Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan’s awards broke the record for the most Asian actors winning on Oscar night.

Breaking down stereotypes at Oscars 2023

Yeoh is only the second Asian Best Actress nominee and the first to fully embrace her Asian heritage. She is also only the second woman of color to win in that category. This recognition is significant because Asian actors have historically been relegated to subservient sidekick roles to white leads. Only in recent years have Asian actors been recognized for roles that defy stereotypes.

Everything Everywhere All at Once – a milestone for Asian talent

The victory of Everything Everywhere All at Once at the 95th Oscars is a milestone for Asian talent in front of and behind the camera. The film walked away with the most Oscars, winning seven awards, including Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress, and Supporting Actor.

M.M. Keeravani and Chandrabose create history with their win

Composer M.M. Keeravani and artist-lyricist Chandrabose, who are both from India, won the award for Best Original Song, Naatu Naatu, from the movie RRR, which was performed onstage at the Oscars. “The Elephant Whisperers” was the first Indian documentary short of winning an Oscar.

Bold, unconventional bets and embracing diversity

The Academy Awards have made bold, unconventional bets and embraced diversity in recent years. This year’s recognition of Asian talent is a significant milestone for the entertainment industry, demonstrating the Academy’s unafraid approach to making bold and unconventional bets. The world is watching, and it is encouraging to see the industry finally recognize and celebrate Asian talent.

Asian representation in previous Oscars

Historically academy awards have been a representation of the west-primarily American movies with mere 23 nominations since the first ceremony in 1929. With the 2023 awards, the glass ceiling seems to be breaking.  With four Asian actors receiving nominations: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu for their roles in Everything Everywhere All at Once, and Hong Chau for her role in The Whale, it is quite a coming of age for the Oscar awards.

The first-ever Asian performer to receive an Oscar was Miyoshi Umeki, who won Best Supporting Actress in 1957 for her role in the war romance drama Sayonara. Ben Kingsley is the only person of Asian descent to have won Best Actor, for his portrayal of revolutionary leader Mahatma Gandhi in Gandhi (1983). Haing S. Ngor, of Cambodian descent, won Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Killing Fields (1984), where he played journalist and refugee Dith Pran who chronicled the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.

More recently, in 2021, during the 93rd Academy Awards, Chloe Zhao, who was born in China, became the first woman of Asian descent and the second woman ever to win Best Director for her film Nomadland, which also won Best Picture. Yuh-Jung Youn also made history as the first Korean actress to win an Oscar in an acting category for her role in Minari as Best Supporting Actress. Riz Ahmed and Steven Yeun were nominated for their performances in The Sound of Metal and Minari, respectively, in the same year.

Oscars 2023: Growing acceptance for the Asian community

These historic wins come amid growing calls for diversity and representation in Hollywood, particularly for Asian and Asian-American actors and filmmakers. In 2020, the Oscars faced criticism for its lack of diversity, prompting the Academy to introduce new inclusion standards for future awards. The recent wins of Asian nominees at the Oscars demonstrate progress towards greater diversity and representation in the industry. Many hope that this will serve as a catalyst for continued change and progress towards more inclusive and representative storytelling.

The historic wins of Asian nominees at the 95th Academy Awards highlight the growing importance of diversity and representation in Hollywood. As the industry continues to evolve and change, it is important to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of those who are breaking barriers and paving the way for a more inclusive future.

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