Anna May Wong – An actress who rose to prominence during the silent-film era is set to make history as the first Asian-American to feature on US money.
According to a news release, Anna May Wong, who has acted in over 60 films, as well as on TV and in the theatre, will be on the back of the quarter. The fifth coin in the American Women Quarters Program, featuring Wong’s portrait, will go into circulation on Oct. 24. Over 300 million quarters are planned to be printed.
“The fifth coin in our American Women Quarters Program honors Anna May Wong, a strong advocate who advocated for more representation and more multidimensional roles for Asian American performers,” said Mint Director Ventris Gibson in a release. “This quarter is intended to symbolize the breadth and depth of Anna May Wong’s accomplishments, which she surmounted during her lifetime.”
Wong Liu Tsong was born on January 3, 1905. She passed away on February 2, 1961, at the age of 56. According to NPR, Wong was the first Asian-American film star. She apparently had trouble landing roles in the United States, and she was paid significantly less than white actresses. Wong got $6,000 for his appearance in the 1932 film “Shanghai Express,” according to NPR, while Marlene Dietrich earned $78,166.
Wong battled against the stereotypical portrayal of Asians in films. According to IMDB.com, she moved to Europe in 1928 to make films due to discrimination in the United States, but returned in 1930 after obtaining a contract offer from Paramount Pictures. She still had to deal with prejudices after she returned.
According to NPR, she asked the Los Angeles Times in 1933, “Why is it that the film Chinese is nearly always the villain of the play, and such a horrible villain – ruthless, devious, a snake in the grass?” “That is not how we are.”