Anna May Wong – first Asian-American to be featured on US currency

Anna May Wong, a Chinese-American movie star in Hollywood, is set to become the first Asian-American to feature in US currency.

Key facts

  • A quarter-dollar coin depicting a close-up image of Anna May Wong will commence circulation on October 24, 2022.
  • This will be the fifth coin in the American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program.
  • It will have the Latin phrase “E PLURIBUS UNUM”, which means “out of many, one”.
  • It is designed to recognize Wong’s accomplishments while overcoming challenges and hurdles during her lifetime.
  • Wong is regarded as Hollywood’s first Chinese-American star, having a decades-long career in motion pictures, television, and theatre amid the widespread racism in the United States.
  • As the first Asian female actor, she faced discrimination and was cast aside in favour of non-Asian actresses.
  • She was forced to play exoticized stereotypes of East Asians and could not get lead roles in films because of laws prohibiting actors from different races from kissing on screen.
  • She is famed for dying a thousand deaths due to the villainous roles she played.
  • Wong received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was the first Asian American actress to do so. Lucy Liu became the second Asian American woman to achieve this feat in 2019.
  • Wong was born in Los Angeles to second-generation Taishanese Chinese-American parents in 1905.
  • During the silent film era, she featured in “The Toll of the Sea” (1922) – one of the first colour films.

American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program

The AWQ program is a four-year program that honors the achievements of women in the United States from 2022 to 2025. Under this program, the US mint will issue a series of quarters featuring notable women in United States History. Till date, Maya Angelou, Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, and Nina Otero-Warren have been featured under the program.

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