The US Mint on Monday will begin producing coins featuring the Asian American film star, Anna May Wong. She broke into Hollywood during the silent film era and now she becomes the first Asian American to feature on US currency, reported The New York Times.
Anna May Wong’s image features her iconic flapper-era bangs and pencil-thin eyebrows. She spent her life struggling against prevailing attitudes and discrimination. The late actor appeared in more than 60 movies.
The quarter is not just honouring Wong’s career but also the struggles she faced in securing good roles in Hollywood in an era of “yellowface” and anti-miscegenation laws.
The coin framed by dots represents marquee lights. In a press release, Emily Damstra who designed the count said, “Many prominent actors from the 1920s and 1930s saw their name framed by lightbulbs on movie theatre marquees, so I thought it made sense to feature Anna May Wong in this way.”
The coin includes the words, ‘quarter dollar’ and a Latin phrase “E pluribus unum,” which means “out of many, one.” The reverse side of the coin has George Washington’s face. The U.S. Mint is expected to create more than 300 million Wong quarters, reported NYT.
She further added, “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.”
Born in 1905 in Chinatown, Wong at the age of 14 made her first film appearance in 1919’s’ ‘The Red Lantern. She landed her breakthrough role in the 1922 silent drama, “The Toll of the Sea.”
Shirley Jennifer Lim, a Stony Brook University history professor in her book about Wong’s career wrote, “Decades before the civil rights-generated category of Asian American existed, Wong grappled with how to be an Asian American actress.”