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Michelle Yeoh Biography

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Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh
Ipoh, Perak

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Michelle Yeoh Biography

Born as Yang Zi Chong in the mining town of Ipoh in West Malaysia in the lunar year of the Tiger, she spoke English and Malay before Chinese. A ballet dancer since age 4, she moved to London, England to study at the Royal Academy as a teenager. After a brief dance career, she won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant title in her native country and the Miss Moomba beauty pageant title in Melbourne, Australia in the early 1980s. Her first on camera work was a 1984 commercial with martial arts star Jackie Chan. In 1985, she began making action movies with D&B Films of Hong Kong. She was first billed as Michelle Khan, then later, Michelle Yeoh. Never a trained martial artist, she relied on her dance discipline and her on-set trainers to prepare for her martial arts action scenes.

She uses many dance moves in her films. She still does most of her own stunts and has been injured many times. Ironically, she still cannot read Chinese and she has to have Chinese script read to her. In 1988, she married wealthy D&B Films executive Dickson Poon and retired from acting. Even though they divorced in 1992, she is close to Poon's second wife and a godmother to Poon's daughter. When she returned to acting, she became very popular to Chinese audiences and she became known to western audiences through her co-starring roles in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and in the phenomenally successful Wo hu cang long (2000) aka Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' directed by Ang Lee. She turned down a role in a sequel to The Matrix (1999).

She has her own production company, Mythical Films and has trained with the Shen Yang Acrobatic team for her role in The Touch (2002), an English language film she is both starring in and producing. She hopes to use her company to discover and nurture new filmmaking talent. She also wants to act in roles that combine both action and deeper spiritual themes.


Michelle Yeoh Trivia

Chosen by "People" magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. [1997]

One of the only female stars whom Jackie Chan lets do her own stunts.

A former Miss Malaysia, she got her start in acting in a commercial with Jackie Chan.

Miss Malaysia [1983]

Fought her way to the top in the male-dominated genre of Hong Kong action films, where she has been known for years as the "queen of martial arts".

Has a Bachelor's Degree in Dance from the Royal Academy of Dance (London, England).

One of the highest paid Chinese-language actresses in the world.

Highest paid actress in Asia.

Released a single CD in 1993, "Love Quite Like a Comet", from her movie Xin liu xing hu die jian (1993).

Surname, "Yeoh" is pronounced "yo".

She is currently engaged to Jean Todt, the director of the Ferrari F1 team. [2005]

She speaks 3 languages, English, Malay and Cantonese. However, she can't read Chinese and relies on pinyin (a system of phonetic notation) to pronounce words. In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, she uses pinyin to recite her lines (with help from Mandarin speaking crew members) in Mandarin as she doesn't speak the language.

Member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002

In 2001, she was given the title of "dato'" by the Sultan of Perak, her native state. "Dato'" is an honorary Malaysian title somewhat like an English knighthood, and it lies below the ranks of "Dato' Seri," "Tan Sri" and "Tun."

Member of the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1999




 
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