As the first Chinese-American movie star, Anna May Wong used her fame to challenge racism and stereotypes in Hollywood. Born in 1905 in Los Angeles, California to second-generation immigrants.
Wong was named Liu Tsong at birth, meaning “willow frost” but later chose the more American sounding name, Anna May, to help her fit in in the movie industry. Growing up in Los Angeles, Wong was captivated by the world of Hollywood and spent much of her childhood at the movies and hanging around studios begging directors to give her a role in their movies. Her persistence paid off when she earned her first role as an uncredited extra in the 1919 silent film The Red Lantern when she was 14. Soon after this, she started receiving more roles and eventually dropped out of school to pursue her acting career full-time.
In her life she was also a fashion icon, getting voted "The world's best-dressed woman" by the Mayfair Mannequin Society of New York in 1934. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate by Peking University in 1932 - the first time it had ever been given to an actor.
“This is such a short life that nothing can matter very much either one way or another. I have learned not to struggle but to flow along with the tide. If I am to be rich and famous, that will be fine. If not, what do riches and fame count in the long run?”
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