Born in 1905 in Los Angeles in a family of poor emigrants and though her traditional father strongly disapproved of her cinephilia as it deflected her from scholastic pursuits, as the little girl Anna May Wong was determined to be an actress.
Unfortunately most portrayals of Asian women were used to be played by Caucasian actresses with “yellow face”.
And most of the time Anna May Wong was rejected.
The discrimination she faced in the domestic industry caused her to go to Europe for working in English and German films.
Later, she told journalist Doris Mackie, “I was so tired of the parts I had to play. Why is it that the screen Chinese is always the villain? And so a crude villain, murderous, treacherous, a snake in the grass.”
European directors appreciated Wong's unique talent and beauty.
According to her biographer, Wong hobnobbed with “an intellectual elite that included princes, playwrights, artists and photographers who clamored to work with her.” She was featured in magazines all over the world, much more than actresses of a similar level of accomplishment.
Her movie career went into eclipse in the 1940s.
Anna May Wong appeared in over 50 American, English and German films in her career, making her the first global Chinese-American movie star.
She was forced to fight against racism and stereotyping all her professional life, while simultaneously being criticized by Chinese at home and abroad for perpetuating stereotypes in the media.
Despite this tremendous burden, the beautiful woman assayed an elegance and sophistication on-screen that made her the paradigm of Asian women for a generation of movie audiences.