NPR Stealth-Edits Article Saying Oscar-Winning Actress Michelle Yeoh ‘Identifies As Asian’ After Backlash

(SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
Font Size:

NPR on Monday stealth-edited an article originally stating actress Michelle Yeoh was the first “self-identified” Asian woman to win an Oscar after the outlet received backlash on social media.

Yeoh received an Oscar for best actress in a leading role for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” at the 2023 Oscars awards ceremony. NPR initially published an article saying Yeoh is the first “self-identified Asian actress” to win the award, but then quietly changed the wording to say she is the first Asian woman to win the award.

The outlet received backlash on social media for saying Yeoh is a woman “who identifies as Asian.”

“Michelle Yeoh was born in Malaysia. This isn’t like NPR identifying as a legitimate news organization. She doesn’t “identify” as Asian. She *is* Asian,” KTTH radio host Jason Rantz tweeted early Monday.

An archived version of the article referred to Yeoh as “a self-identified Asian actress,” while the current version omits the term ‘self-identified’ completely. (RELATED: Sen. Cruz Presses Judge Jackson On Whether He Can Identify As A ‘Woman’ Or ‘Asian Man’)

The original article pointed to actress Merle Oberon, who was the first actress of Asian heritage to be nominated for an Oscar for best actress after her performance in the 1935 film, “The Dark Angel.” Oberon, the daughter of a British father and Sinhalese and Maori mother, hid her Asian background to protect her career.

The archived article also highlighted Vivien Leigh, who reportedly hid her Asian heritage during her acting career in order to “pass as white.” Leigh won two Oscars for best actress over the course of her career. Additionally, the article mentioned Cher, Salma Hayek and Natalie Portman, claiming all three women are of Western Asian heritage but “do not identify as Asian.”

“The caveat ‘who identifies as Asian’ is necessary because two actresses – nominee Merle Oberon and two-time Oscar winner Vivien Leigh – hid their Asian ancestry and chose to pass as white. Previous winners with Western Asian ancestry – Cher (Armenian), Salma Hayek (Lebanese) and Natalie Portman (Israeli) – do not identify as Asian,” the archived NPR article reads.

The above portion of the article has since been removed and any mention of past Asian actresses winning an Academy Award has been omitted from the current version.

Tags : asian npr oscars
Nicole Silverio

Follow Nicole Silverio on Twitter @NicoleMSilverio