The U.S. Mint will begin shipping coins featuring actress Anna May Wong on Monday, making her the first Asian-American to feature on U.S. currency. Widely known as Hollywood’s first Asian American movie star, Wong fought for representation and against stereotypical roles for Asian Americans.
Wong, struggled to land roles in Hollywood in the early 20th century, a time when white actors would “yellowface” to play Asian roles, and anti-miscegenation laws, criminalized interracial relationships.
Wong eventually moved to Europe and starred in English, French and German films. Telling Los Angeles Times in a 1933 interview that she was tired of the roles she had to play in Hollywood.
The U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters Program is celebrating five female trailblazers in US history. Wong is featured on the fifth coin released this year.
The four other women were poet Maya Angelou, astronaut Sally Ride, suffragist and politician Nina Otero-Warren, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation.