By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) — Malaysian star Michelle Yeoh made history on Sunday by winning an Oscar as Asia's first best actress, the leader of her native country said on Monday.
Yeoh, born in Malaysia's northwestern city of Ipoh, was judged best actress for her lead role in "Everything Everywhere All at Once" — an achievement Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said would "certainly continue to be a source of great inspiration and motivation to our homegrown actors and actresses."
The film, in which Yeoh's character Evelyn Wanga travels across parallel universes to prevent catastrophe, swept away numerous accolades at the 95th Academy Awards held in Los Angeles.
Other awards won by the sci-fi, comedy, and action film were for best director, original screenplay, and film editing.
It was written and directed by the duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.
"For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities," said Yeoh, 60, after accepting the best actress award. "Dream big, and dreams do come true. And, ladies, don't let anybody tell you ... you are ever past your prime."
Winning praise from the Malaysian premier, Yeoh said: "I have to dedicate this to my mom (and) all the moms in the world, because they are really the superheroes, and without them none of us would be here tonight."
"She's 84," Yeoh said of her mother. "I'm taking this home to her. She's watching right now in Malaysia ... with my family and friends. I love you guys! I'm bringing this home to you!" she said, with golden statuette in hand.
Yeoh also voiced gratitude for her "extended family in Hong Kong, where I started my career."
"Thank you for letting me stand on your shoulders, giving me a leg up so I can be here today," she said.
Hong Kong's secretary for the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau Kevin Yeung Yun-hung also said Yeoh's win was "well deserved" and demonstrated the "strength of Hong Kong actors in film industry."
Anwar hoped Yeoh's "illustrious and exemplary" career in the film industry would "provide even greater impetus to the growth of our local industry."
"In creating history by being not just the first Malaysian but the very first Asian actress to win in this category, we take enormous pride in her achievement, adding to a long list of successes and capping a critically acclaimed acting career spanning decades," the Malaysian premier said.