Ever since my introduction to Anna May Wong in college through the documentary Slaying the Dragon, she has become one of my heroes. An intellegent, strong, independent, outspoken woman who made her name in Hollywood and internationally, she became Chinese-American super star during an era where the Chinese suffered from overt racism. Unfortuantely, she struggled with the stereotypes of Asian women, those of which are still prominent in the entertainment industry. Always a supporting character or the antagonist, she was passed up for lead rolls, even replaced by Caucasian actors in yellow face. Awful, awful yellow face (think The Good Earth). China bashed her repeatedly for her roles in American films, calling her a “disgrace”, among other things.
Her story is both inspirational and heart-breaking.
She left Hollywood because of typecasting and moved to Europe to pursue a career there instead. She recorded her first talkie, The Flame of Love, in French, English, and German. Incredible! She came back to Hollywood when American executives were scouting in Europe and she caught there attention (oh sweet irony). Definitely read the wiki. Lots and lots of information about her.
Here are some of my favorite images of her and ones we drew inspiration from:
Enter Jenna Kraczek. Jenna is a photographer with a flair for Old Hollywood Glamour and a love of the portraits of the time, so I knew I could trust her with the very important task of really capturing the essence of Miss Wong. We had excited discussion of our project and when I arrived at her place, she had printouts and books laid out, all ready for referencing. After gushing about how excited we were to know the other party was as equally invested in honoring the legendary actress, we got down to business and had a great shoot!
Photographer: Jenna Kraczek
Model/MUA/Hair/Wardrobe: me, looooo
THE DRAGON LADY
“A Dragon Lady is a stereotype of East Asian women as strong, deceitful, domineering or mysterious” – wiki
THE DEMURE BUTTERFLY
More Anna May Wong Links
A kickstarter to get Yunah Hong’s documentary Anna May Wong: In Her Own Words on PBS just reached it’s funding goal on November 30th. Congratulations!!
Hope you guys enjoyed learning about Miss Anna May Wong…and if you just skipped over the text and went straight for the photos, you’re a jerk, but I hope you enjoyed those too. Until next time….