Michelle Yeoh Biography
Michelle Yeoh Choo Kheng PSM, born Yeoh Choo Kheng on August 6, 1962, is a highly acclaimed Malaysian actress known for her performances in action and martial arts films.
Michelle Yeoh’s love for dance began at a young age, and she pursued ballet at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, but a spinal injury ended her dream of becoming a professional dancer. She shifted her focus to choreography and other arts and obtained a BA degree in creative arts with a minor in drama in 1982.
In 1983, Yeoh won the Miss Malaysia World contest and represented Malaysia at the Miss World 1983 pageant in London. Soon after, she caught the attention of Hong Kong film production company D&B Films when she appeared in a television commercial with Jackie Chan. Yeoh started her film career in action and martial arts films, doing most of her own stunts. She took the stage name Michelle Khan and was given leading roles in several films, despite only learning Mandarin and Cantonese during this time.
Michelle Yeoh’s career took a hiatus when she married Dickson Poon, the head of D&B Group, in 1987, but she returned to acting after their divorce in 1992. She changed her stage name back to Michelle Yeoh when she starred in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997, playing Wai Lin opposite Pierce Brosnan. Yeoh’s performance earned her the reputation of a ‘female James Bond.’
Yeoh’s international success continued with her starring role in the Mandarin-language martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), which earned her a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role. She produced her first English film, The Touch, in 2002, and continued her English-language work with Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), Sunshine (2007), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), and The Lady (2011), in which she portrayed Aung San Suu Kyi.
Michelle Yeoh expanded her career to television in 2015, playing Mei Foster in the series Strike Back. In 2016, she was cast as Starfleet Captain Philippa Georgiou in the series Star Trek: Discovery, and she earned critical acclaim for her performance as family matriarch Eleanor Young in Crazy Rich Asians (2018).
In 2021, Michelle Yeoh starred in Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and in the science fiction surreal comedy film Everything Everywhere All at Once, which earned her a Golden Globe win and her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
Michelle Yeoh is a practicing Buddhist and currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland, with her fiancé Jean Todt, former CEO of Scuderia Ferrari and president of the FIA.