Yeoh was born to a Malaysian Chinese family in Ipoh, Malaysia. She was interested in dance from a very early age, beginning ballet at the age of four. At the age of 15, she moved with her parents to England, where she attended boarding school. Yeoh later studied at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, majoring in ballet. However, a spinal injury prevented her from becoming a professional ballet dancer, and she transferred her attention to choreography and other arts.
6 August 1962
No Formal Training
Your story may not have such a happy beginning, but that doesn’t make you who you are. It is the rest of your story – who you choose to be.
Before Fame. At age 21, she won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant and represented the country in the 1983 Miss World competition.
In 1983, the former ballerina got her first taste of fame when she was crowned Miss Malaysia at the age of 21. She represented Malaysia at the Queen of the Pacific 1983 beauty pageant in Australia and won the crown.
From there, she appeared in a television commercial with Jackie Chan which caught the attention of a struggling Hong Kong film production company, D&B Films. Yeoh started her film career acting in action and martial arts films such as ‘Yes, Madam’ in 1985, where she performed most of her own stunts. The D&B Group was run by Dickson Poon. Yeohmarried Poon in 1987 and retired from acting. When the couple divorced in 1992, Yeoh returned to acting.
Yeoh‘s performance in ‘Police Story 3: Super Cop’ marked her comeback. She acted in ‘The Heroic Trio’ in 1993, and the Yuen Woo-ping films ‘Tai Chi Master’ and ‘Wing Chun’ in 1994. Yeoh learned English and Malay before Cantonese. She learned the lines for ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ phonetically.
In 1997, she starred in the James Bond film ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ as Wai Lin. She went on to produce her first English film , ‘The Touch’, through her own production company, Mythical Films (2002).
In 2005, Yeoh starred as the graceful Mameha in the film adaptation of ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, and she continued her English-language work in 2007 with ‘Sunshine’. In 2008, Michelle Yeoh also starred in fantasy action film ‘The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’ with Brendan Fraser and Jet Li.
Apart from action films, she is famous for playing nationalists in two film biopics. In 1997, she played Soong Ai-ling in the award winning ‘The Soong Sisters’. In 2011, she portrayed Aung San Suu Kyi in Luc Besson’s ‘The Lady’.