Anna May Wong (1905–1961), a pioneering Asian American in Hollywood and the world of fashion, will soon make history as the first Asian American to be featured on US currency.
On Monday (October 24), the US Mint announced, the fifth coin in the American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program would enter circulation, featuring a portrait of Wong with her chin resting in her hand.
Wong’s decades-long career in film, television, and theater occurred during a time of extreme bigotry, yet she is often regarded as the industry’s first Chinese-American star.
Who is Anna May Wong And Why is She on American Currency?
Anna Wong began her career in the film industry at the age of 14, when she appeared in The Red Lantern as an extra. Her parents were second-generation Chinese immigrants from Los Angeles.
However, it wasn’t until she starred in one of the earliest Technicolor films, The Toll of the Sea (1922), that she gained widespread fame.
According to CNN, Wong went on to act in more than 60 movies throughout the course of his career. One of her most famous roles was in the box office smash Shanghai Express (1932), in which she starred with Marlene Dietrich, Laurence Olivier, and Joan Crawford.
In addition to that, she was the first Asian American to star as the lead actor in a television show. The show was called “The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong” (1951).
Wong had a difficult time finding roles that were suitable for her to perform in Hollywood, despite her many accomplishments in the industry. This was mostly due to the pervasive racism that existed during that time.
She moved to Europe, where she was offered greater roles in films produced in Germany, Britain, and France, but she eventually settled back in the United States during the 1930s.
Why is Anna Wong on American Currency?
As part of the American Women Quarters Program, a quarter-dollar coin featuring a profile of Wong with her distinctive bangs and long fingernails will enter circulation on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Mint.
According to Mint designer Emily Damstra, “I think it was her face and expressive motions that truly attracted cinema viewers,” therefore they were incorporated into the coin. “Anna May Wong offered a lot to the profession of acting, including hard work, determination, and expertise,” Damstra said.