• Creatively Asian

Anna May Wong

"I'm Anna May Wong. I come from old Hong Kong. But now I'm a Hollywood star."

Anna May Wong, (born Wong Liu Tsong, 1905-1961), was born in Los Angeles to second-generation Chinese-American parents. Her passion for acting started at a very young age. Some of the first movies she acted in included The Toll of the Sea (1922) and The Thief of Baghdad (1924), which gained her worldwide stardom. She did, however, face many racial stereotypes in Hollywood, causing her to move to Europe where she starred in the plays Piccadilly (1929), Daughter of the Dragon (1931), and Daughter of Shanghai (1937). Additionally, she wasn't able to land one of her dream roles of the Chinese character O-Lan in the film Good Earth because of her Asian heritage. Wong spent the next couple of years touring in China, and it wasn't until 1951 when she made history in The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, the first American TV show with an Asian-American lead. She died shortly after this role, but was remembered and celebrated years after for her tenacity and determination to combat racial stereotypes.


"The harder the work, the greater the satisfaction in ACCOMPLISHING it."


Anna May Wong left behind an immense legacy, inspiring many young Asian-American actors to pursue their passion. She combated numerous road bumps in her career concerning her ethnic background, but she never let this discourage her. Wong helped humanize Chinese Americans to the Hollywood audience during a time when Chinese immigrants and citizens were discriminated against in the U.S. She became a very important literary symbol, as many famous poets used her back story and personality to channel their creative work. Today, Anna May Wong's plays and films are still shown at the Museum of Modern Art and the American Museum of the Moving Image in New Your City. Her memorable story and work ethic have helped paved the way for increased Asian representation in the Asian-American film community today.


"Every time your picture is taken, you lose a part of your soul."


Anna May Wong appeared as Detective in The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong (1951), Mongol Slave in The Thief of Baghdad (1951), Half Moon in

Dinty (1920), Hue Fei inShanghai Express (1932), and is on the Hollywood

Walk of Fame (1960).


"I was so tired of the parts I had to play. There seems little for me in Hollywood, because, rather than real Chinese, producers prefer Hungarians, Mexicans, and American Indians for Chinese roles."


We believe that Anna May Wong embodies the meaning of Creatively Asian because of the legacy she left behind to keep fighting for her right to pursue her acting dream. Wong was considered to be the first Chinese American actress to gain recognition around the world, despite all the stereotypes she faced. The symbols of the "Dragon Lady", and the "Butterfly" that she became famous for, yet defied still shines brightly today as an emblem of hope for aspiring Asians in Hollywood—it drives us to demand accurate Asian representation on screen. In her passing, she gained the respect and adoration she deserved from both the Chinese and American society.


Created my Meera Nair. Graphics by Vivian Mai and Jasmine Nguyen.

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