Asian Pacific Talent Scores in Film at Golden Globes

“This is for all the shoulders that I stand on and all the people coming with me on this journey going forward,” Michelle Yeoh said in her acceptance speech as the first Malaysian to win a Golden Globe award, actress–musical or comedy for the 2022 film “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Yeoh, recently a Presidential Medal of Freedom award recipient, belongs to a long list of talents of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage who are Golden Globe winners and nominees in film. They are worth celebrating during Asian American Pacific Islander Month.

Nearly 70 years ago, Machiko Kyo made history as the first Asian to earn a nomination as actress in a leading role–musical or comedy nomination for the 1956 “The Teahouse of the August Moon.”

The next year, two Asian thespians bagged nods: Sessue Hayakawa, performance by an actor in a supporting role for “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and Miyoshi Umeki, performance by an actress in a supporting role for “Sayonara.” Umeki went on to land two more Globes citations in 1962 and 1971.

Tarita Teriipaia garnered a performance by an actress in a supporting role nomination for the 1962 epic “Mutiny on the Bounty.”

Jocelyn Lagarde made Golden Globes history when she won performance by an actress in a supporting role for the 1966 “Hawaii.” It was the Polynesian’s first and only acting role.

In the same year, Mako cinched a performance by an actor in a supporting role nod for “The Sand Pebbles.”

Haing S. Ngor triumphed as the first Asian to score the performance by an actor in a supporting role Globe for 1984’s “The Killing Fields.” Another Asian, Pat Morita, was nominated in the category for “The Karate Kid” in the same year.

Other actors of AAPI heritage who vied in this category include Lou Diamond Phillips (“Stand and Deliver,” 1989), Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai,” 2004), Dev Patel (“Lion,” 2017) and Charles Melton (“May December,” 2024). When Ke Huy Quan became the first Vietnam native to win this field for the 2022 “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the former child actor delivered an emotional acceptance speech.

Patel snared a second nomination for performance by an actor–musical or comedy for “The Personal History of David Copperfield” in (2020).

Ben Kingsley became the first Asian to win performance by an actor–drama for the 1982 film “Gandhi,” also winning as best newcomer. He earned six more citations in various Globes categories and is the Asian actor with the most nominations.

Riz Ahmed also made history as the first thespian of Pakistani descent to secure a performance by an actor–drama nod for “Sound of Metal” (2020).

In the performance by an actress–musical or comedy derby, trailblazers Kyo and Umeki were followed by Hailee Steinfeld (“The Edge of Seventeen,” 2017), Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians,” 2019) and Awkwafina who became the first Asian to triumph in her field for “The Farewell” in 2020. Yeoh’s victory in the category came three years later.

In the performance by an actress in a motion picture–drama, nominees include Ziyi Zhang (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” 2006) and Greta Lee (“Past Lives,” 2024).

Following Lagarde’s precedent-setting performance by an actress in a supporting role, Meg Tilly won this category for “Agnes of God” in 1986. Other nominated actresses in this race include Rinko Kikuchi (“Babel,” 2007) and Hong Chau (“Downsizing,” 2018).

Dolly de Leon earned a historic nomination as the first Filipino to land a performance by an actress in a supporting role citation for “Triangle of Sadness” (2022).

Among Asian filmmakers, Ang Lee has the most wins (two) and nominations (four). When he bagged director–motion picture for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), the Taiwanese earned the distinction of being the first Asian to receive this honor.

Lee won the prize again for the 2005 “Brokeback Mountain.” He was also cited for “Sense and Sensibility” and “Life of Pi.”

With the 2020 “Nomadland,” Chloe Zhao set several Globes records: the first Asian woman to prevail as director–motion picture, first Asian woman producer to win motion picture–drama and the first film directed by a woman to capture the motion picture–drama honors.

Other cited filmmakers include Shekhar Kapur (“Elizabeth,” 1998), Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite,” 2019), Daniel Kwan (with Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and Celine Song (“Past Lives,” 2023).

This is by no means a complete list of the AAPI-origin talents who have clinched Globe wins and nominations in film. It’s a glimpse of some of the gifted artists on whose shoulders Yeoh stands on and all the people joining her in the journey toward more recognition and opportunities.