Michelle Yeoh sees her casting in “Wicked” was a result of progress.
The actress is set to play Madame Morrible in the upcoming live-action movie adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, a role first played by Carole Shelley and frequently portrayed by Caucasian actresses in the past.
Yeoh was not unaware of this fact, seeing it as both a good sign for representation in media as well as a natural evolution.
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“In the past, this role would’ve been for a Caucasian lady,” she told People for their March cover story. “This is what we call diversity, inclusivity. This is how you make it work. It is a natural process—progress, evolution that we can have as storytellers.”
The 60-year-old was as surprised by the casting as anyone and was pleasantly shocked to find she’s been granted even more opportunities than ever this late in her career.
“A lot of actresses find, as the numbers get bigger, the roles start to dwindle,” she explained. “Over the last few years, I’m very proud that we have been breaking away from stereotypes—it’s not just lip service. It is happening. And it’s happening to me.”
The veteran actress noted that there were many of her contemporaries that equally deserved these roles and hoped that by doing her best, she would do right by them.
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“You go from shock to bewilderment,” Yeoh continued. “‘Wow, is it me? How can it be me?’ Because I’ve worked with so many amazing actresses who should have had this privilege, and so I am very grateful to be given the opportunity to sit at the table and to be seen.”
Fans hoping to follow along her journey and domination of Hollywood can see the actress next in “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” in June, “A Haunting in Venice” with Tina Fey and Kenneth Branagh and “Avatar 3”.