Oct 20, 2022
Actress Anna May Wong Will Be First Asian American On U.S. Currency Transcript
Anna May Wong is now the first Asian American to be featured on U.S. currency through a federal program honoring female trailblazers on coins. Read the transcript here.
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Emilie Ikeda (00:00):
One of the first Asian Americans to dazzle Hollywood’s silver screen is now the first to grace US currency. An estimated half a billion quarters will soon pay tribute to Anna May Wong, who landed her first acting role at just 14 years old in 1919 and went on to star in TV, radio, theater, and movies. But the new coin based tribute to more than her decades of success. It also honors her struggle in an era when yellow face and laws criminalizing interracial relationships ran rampant.
Paula Yoo (00:32):
There were certain images, especially of Asian women that were constantly and falsely being promoted on screen. The way she fought back was through her talent as an actor.
Emilie Ikeda (00:42):
The third-generation American paved the way for other Asian American actors like Lucy Liu, who received a star on the Walk of Fame next to Wong’s.
Lucy Liu (00:51):
So 100 years ago, she was a pioneer while enduring racism, marginalization, and exclusion.
Emilie Ikeda (01:00):
Wong’s elegance on screen now etched into the quarter with a closeup of her unmistakable face resting on her manicured hand, and on the flip side will be George Washington. But this version of the founding father is designed by a woman for the first time in history.
Michele Thompson (01:18):
The power of US currency is that it really exemplifies and shows to everyday citizens what we value as a nation.
Emilie Ikeda (01:28):
The US Mint will begin rolling out Wong’s quarters starting Monday, all part of a four year effort to honor female trailblazers on coins, including poet Maya Angelo and astronaut Dr. Sally Ride as their legacies continue to inspire change. Emilie Ikeda, NBC News.
Lester Holt (01:48):
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