The Women Who Made History at the Oscars

On a night full of standing ovations, waves of laughter and tears and breathtaking musical performances at the 2023 Oscars came two unforgettable firsts. Actress Michelle Yeoh and costume designer Ruth E. Carter aren’t just Oscar winners. They are trailblazers and inspirations for people around the world.

Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh claimed a title that will last forever. At the 95th Academy Awards, the Malaysian-born actress became the first Asian woman to win the Oscar for best actress for her role as Evelyn Wang in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibility,” said Yeoh. “This is proof that dreams dream big, and dreams do come true.”

After accepting the award, Yeoh provided words of encouragement for all women. 

“And ladies, don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re past your prime,” said Yeoh. “Never give up.”

She also took the time to recognize her 84-year-old mother, Janet Yeoh, who watched on in Malaysia and who Yeoh credited for the lessons she carries with her.

“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,” said Yeoh.

In addition to her Oscar win, Yeoh received numerous awards for her acclaimed performance in the film, including the Golden Globe award for best actress and the SAG award for outstanding performance by a female actor. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” received a whopping seven Oscars after leading with 11 nominations.

As an industry veteran, Yeoh’s career is one beyond compare, establishing herself in both Hong Kong cinema and Hollywood. She also remains outspoken about the importance of representation in film.

“We need this because there are so many who have felt unseen, unheard,” said Yeoh. “It’s not just the Asian community. This is for the Asian community but for anybody who’s been identified as a minority, we deserve to be heard, we deserve to be seen, we deserve to have the equal opportunity so we can have a seat at the table.”

Ruth E. Carter

Ruth E. Carter continues to break barriers, becoming the first Black woman to win two Oscars. 

On Sunday night, Carter took home her second Oscar for costume design for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” In 2019, she made headlines after becoming the first Black woman to win an Academy Award in the category for the first “Black Panther” movie.

In her acceptance speech, Carter thanked the Academy for “recognizing the superhero that is a Black woman” and took a moment to voice an important message.

“She endures, she loves, she overcomes,” said Carter. “She is every woman in this film. She is my mother.”

During a touching moment, Carter shared the news of her mother’s recent passing, dedicating the award to her and calling upon the late “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 at 43 of cancer, to care for her.

“This past week, Mable Carter became an ancestor,” said Carter. “This film prepared me for this moment.”

Carter’s artistic craft in multiple movies has been recognized by the Academy before. She received Oscar nominations for her work in the 1992 film “Malcolm X” and the 1997 film “Amistad.”

Reflecting on her Oscar win, Carter discussed the impact she hopes her award will have.

“I feel that this win opens the door for other young costume designers that may not think that this industry is for them,” said Carter. “Hopefully, they’ll see me, and they’ll see my story, and they’ll think that they can win an Oscar too.”