Anna May Wong blazed a trail for Asian actors in Hollywood

Before Asian actors Lucy Liu, Michelle Yeoh, and Awkwafina graced screens big and small, there was Anna May Wong.

Working in and out of Hollywood from the mid-1910s until the early 1960s, the groundbreaking Chinese American actor cut a distinct path in entertainment history. She appeared in more than 60 movies – as well as plays, TV series, and vaudeville shows – at a time of limited roles, shoddy contract terms, and rampant stereotypes for Asians working in Hollywood.

In “Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous With American History,” writer and scholar Yunte Huang offers the final volume in his trilogy that explores, as he puts it, “the Asian American experience in the making of America.” Aiming his curiosity and penchant for research at Charlie Chan, conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker, and now Wong, Huang delves into individuals who soared into the pop culture consciousness of their day despite political tumult, racial bias, and xenophobia. Wong’s story feels particularly relevant today.