First Asian American film star will be published on the quarter 


Isabel Santos Pilot | Wikimedia Commons

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Hollywood star Anna May Wong, will be honored by the United States Mint by having her likeness  published on the quarter. Wong was chosen for this through the American Women Quarters Program.

The program was started by the United States Mint in honor of the one hundredth anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Between 2022 and 2025, five women will be selected every year to be represented and honored on the tail side of the quarter. Aside from Wong, Dr. Sally Ride, Maya Angelou, Wilma Mankiller and Nina Otero-Warren will also be featured on the quarter for 2022.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recognized Wong’s contribution to cinema and Asian American history.

“Anna May Wong was a dazzling, trailblazing talent on the silver screen & a courageous advocate for representation in cinema — inspiring generations of AAPI actors,” Pelosi tweeted. “It’s fitting her likeness will grace our quarter beside an all-American creed: E Pluribus Unum, “from many, one.”

Wong was a ChineseAmerican Hollywood actress who started her career in the 1920s during the silent film era, in her debut role as Lotus Flower in the 1922 film, “The Toll of the Sea.” This role allowed Wong to get her big break and become the first Asian-American film star in Hollywood.

Due to her Asian background, Wong was constantly cast as the “Dragon Lady,” which were Asian women in films that were mysterious and sexually alluring vibe. She starred in most notably the film “Piccadilly,” which came out in 1929.

In Europe, Wong was featured in many films and plays, gaining her even more success. Despite leaving the United States, she did split her time between Europe and Hollywood, often returning to the states to film movies. Her biggest success was with the American movie “Shanghai Express” in 1932, where she starred alongside Marlene Dietrich.

In 1951 following a career change, she starred as the first Asian-American lead in American television in her role as Liu-Tsong in the show “The Gallery of Madame Lih-Tsong.” This show was short-lived and was canceled after only one season.

Shortly before her death, Wong returned back to television in 1959 where she starred in the series “The Voodoo Factor.” However, the actress died on Feb. 3, 1961.

The women for this program are chosen through a lengthy process. First individuals are appointed as liaisons by the Smithsonian Institution’s American Women’s History Initiative, or  SIWHI, and the National Women’s History Museum, or NWHM. These liaisons consult with the Bipartisan Women’s caucus, where they select women of different fields and diverse backgrounds.

The Secretary of the Treasury will then be given a list of the women chosen by the U.S. Mint and will make the final selection of the five women that will be chosen that year. After the approval, the Mint will create original designs for the quarter featuring these women and will show it to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts for approval.

After this process, the Mint will present the designs to the Secretary of the Treasury for final approval, then once approved the quarters can go into production.

Overall, people across the country have reacted quite positively towards Wong being selected, as it will allow Asian-Americans to receive the spotlight for a talented actress. This comes at an especially important time as Asian-Americans have been the targets of anti-Asian hate crimes  throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.