That’s Dr. Michelle Yeoh, for you.
The actress added a new title to her resume on Saturday when she received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from the American Film Institute at the 2022 film school class commencement ceremony. Yeoh’s Everything everywhere at once Directors The Daniels (aka Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) were on hand to honor her at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
On their recent collaboration, “I think we underestimated how risky the script was for her,” Scheinert said during the couple’s introductory speech. “We were on set and saw Michelle stick her squiggly hot dog fingers covered in spices in Jamie Lee Curtis’ mouth – if you haven’t seen our film, it happens in our film – and we thought, ‘That’s brave.'”
“We obviously saw her like she jumped a motorcycle on a moving train and that’s really cool,” Kwan added, but Scheinert was quick to intervene: “I think what she did in our movie is braver. .”
Kwan also teased that “every few weeks while we were filming, she would turn to us and say, ‘If this movie doesn’t get any good, I’ll have to kill you both.’ We’re still here! It is a testament to the hard work of our employees who have helped us that we are still alive.” After a highlight of her work, the directors brought Yeoh onstage with the statement, “Dr. Michelle Joehoe!”
“You made my mother the happiest mother in the world today,” the star said after the doctorate ceremony. “I think now she really thinks I’m an adult with a real job. I had to keep telling her, “I’m not a real doctor, I don’t write prescriptions, Mom.” But she can tell everyone, ‘My daughter is a doctor.’”
Yeoh reflected on her Hollywood journey in her talk, which started as a ballet dancer before her career was derailed by injury and she decided to run in the Hong Kong action film. She started training in a gym with stuntmen to learn the tricks of the trade, and eventually realized they were just teaching her to fall.
“I was convinced that I was being tricked. I was like, ‘When can I do the real thing: the spring kick, the roundhouse kick?'” Yeoh recalled. “And they said to me, ‘How do you get up if you don’t know how to get down? ?’ That lesson has stayed with me to this day, I had to learn to fall.”
The star said she was injured several times early in her acting career, but those moments taught her perseverance, guts and humility.
“After learning how to fall, I was able to learn to fly,” Yeoh said, before telling the crowd of graduating students, “what I want to share with you today is that our slips and trips are the secrets of our flight. person who has ever stepped on the podium has had quite a few crashes, believe me, that’s part of the deal. Success without failure is called happiness.”
She also made a call to action for the young filmmakers, noting that the entertainment industry today is very different from when it started.
“We are witnessing a profound shift: greater inclusion, more diverse stories, wider access and unlimited global reach. We have shown in our work and at the box office that we are ready for the opportunity and that we deserve more,” Yeoh said. “But inclusion is not a destination, it is a never-ending journey. There is always more we can do to improve our stories and it’s up to you, the next generation of filmmakers, to maintain that momentum.”
“Storytelling is a privilege that none of us should take for granted,” she continued. “We are time travelers, world builders, change makers. A scene you film on an average Tuesday can sow the dreams of a young child somewhere far away, inspire a future superstar or even start an important conversation in our society.”
She concluded with a few words of counsel: “Be courageous. Take chances. Break through barriers. Be proud of what makes you unique. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to fall, because you learn to fly.”
A second honorary doctorate was also presented at the initiation ceremony to AFI Trustee Emeritus Lawrence Herbert – the inventor of a variety of color systems who joined the AFI Board of Trustees in 1987 and served until 2017. He also facilitated the 2020 establishment of the Lawrence Herbert Herbert Alumni Center on the AFI campus. Herbert received a doctorate in communication arts.