Today, January 22nd Googles homepage image shows a black and white illustrations of a beautiful Chinese women, her face significantly adding to the Google spell out. In remembrance and celebration of the 97th anniversary of The Toll of the Searelease, the woman of today’s recognition is Anna May Wong, Hollywood’s first Asian-American movie star to gain international prominence in cinema from silent film, sound film, television, stage and radio. The Toll Of The Sea being her very first lead role in a time of racial controversy.
The actress had a desire to pursuit her place ever since grade school, skipping class and using her 5 cents to see movies at the new Nickelodeon indoor theater that opened in her hometown, LA.
Ana May had her first feature in a movie when she was 14 years old in a film titled The Red Lantern where she was only a detail in the background carrying a lantern. Though this first scene went uncredited, it inched her closer to other opportunities that opened bigger and in most times heavier (due to the racial barriers of the industry) doors to her career.
“ I was so young when I began that I knew I still had youth if I failed, so I determined to give myself 10 years to succeed as an actress.” -Anna May Wong
Wongs decision to drop out of high-school didn’t necessarily hault her life studies at all. Apart from her spending time at local studios and making herself visible to those in direction and production, she took the time to study language in wants to perfect and bring fluidity to her accents. A polyglot for show, May spoke English, Cantonese, French and German. Receiving great recognized for the graceful vocals she’d bring on screen.At age 17, 1922 Anna May landed her first leading role as Lotus Flower in the silent drama, The Toll of the Sea. Quiet the big deal it was, this film was one of the first- ( the second after 1917’s The Gulf to be exact) technicolor feature of Hollywood that didn’t require a special projector for filming. The start of complex optical engineering, the cameras used to film The Toll of the Sea captured natural colors. The camera’s beam-splitting prism separated the green and red portions of the spectrum, recorded alternate frames of a double-length and black-and-white negative all to bring some color to a film that showed the diversity of the cast starring Anna May. The film raised ranges of conversation for plenty reasons but two reason for sure.
Ofcourse after this bold view, the industry was more than “careful” when it came to hiring Anna May for any other films, especially with her “condition”, her race.
Despite, Anna May never conformed to the belittling of her heritage. She consistently outright declined any rolls that followed suit with any Asian stereotypes and spoke out against Hollywood’s racism in interviews. All while still finding way to gain experience, expertise, and exposure.
As she grew in fame, Anna began to use her celebrity to make political statements and attract attention to important causes. She was very outspoken about Japan’s relations with China, and even wrote a criticism of Japan’s invasion of Manchuria in 1931. She also raised money for causes, auctioning off her costumes and donating money to Chinese aid, writing a cookbook and giving the profits to United China Relief.
A women who maintains her morals while attaining her dreams, is a women to be recognized indeed.
Anna Mays birth name is Liu Tsong, meaning “willow frost.” She came up with her own stage name “Anna May” when she was only 11. Anime is a style of Japanese film and television animation.
Anna May ; Anime. That’s clever!
Swipe through the Google Doodle slide by Sophie Diao here.