Anna May Wong was a trailblazing actor during the golden age of Hollywood and is widely regarded as the first Chinese American movie star. Her likeness will soon be featured in a brand new quarter in the United States, which will soon be released into circulation.
According to The New York Times, Wong will be the first Asian American person to be featured on U.S. currency. Wong began her career during the silent film era and went on to appear in more than 60 movies.
The image on the coin, which will start being shipped out on October 24, depicts Wong’s head in a close-up while it is resting on her hand. She is wearing the bangs that became her trademark during the flapper era, and the coin is surrounded by dots that represent marquee lights as a tribute to the legacy she left behind in Hollywood.
“Many prominent actors from the 1920s and 1930s saw their name framed by lightbulbs on movie theater marquees, so I thought it made sense to feature Anna May Wong in this way,” Emily Damstra, who designed the coin for the United States Mint, said in a press release.
“Along with the hard work, determination, and skill Anna May Wong brought to the profession of acting, I think it was her face and expressive gestures that really captivated movie audiences, so I included these elements next to her name,” Damstra added.
In addition, the phrase “quarter dollar” and the Latin phrase “E pluribus unum,” which translates to “out of many, one,” are inscribed on the coin honoring Anna May Wong.
On the back of the coin, just like on all other quarters in the United States, there is a picture of George Washington’s face.
In the year 1905, Wong was given the name Wong Liu Tsong when he was born in Los Angeles. At the age of 14, she made her debut in the film “The Red Lantern,” which was released in 1919. She landed her breakthrough role in the silent drama “The Toll of the Sea,” which was released the following year.
Throughout her career, Wong fought against biased attitudes in Hollywood that limited Asian American actors to stereotypical roles. She was successful in this fight.
According to the Times, she was reportedly frustrated by laws in place at the time that prohibited actors of different races from kissing onscreen. Because of this law, she couldn’t play the romantic lead opposite a white star.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Wong left the United States in 1928 to pursue better opportunities in Europe. She did so because she was disappointed by the lack of opportunities available to her in Hollywood. In Europe, she was able to achieve greater levels of success.
In 1960, Wong was honored with the placement of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. According to the National Women’s History Museum, she suffered a heart attack and passed away in the year 1961, when she was 56 years old.
As part of the American Women Quarters Program, the United States Mint is paying tribute to a number of influential female figures, including Wong.
The program will release five new quarters in 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025, each of which will honor a significant woman from the annals of American history.
Maya Angelou, a renowned author and activist for civil rights, and Sally Ride, a trailblazing astronaut, and physicist, are both among this year’s honorees.
The other two individuals who will be honored in 2022 are Nina Otera-Warren, who was a pioneer in the fight for women’s suffrage in the state of New Mexico, and Wilma Mankiller, who was the first woman elected to the position of principal chief in the Cherokee Nation.