Anna May Wong was the first Asian American Actress. Born in in Los Angeles, to second-generation Chinese parents, Anna developed a love for the movies and began acting when she was in her teens.
During the Silent Movie era, Anna was casted in Toll of the Sea (1922), one of the first movies to be made in Technicolor and in The Thief of Baghdad (1924). She soon became a fashion icon and reached international stardom.
Although she soon was know throughout the world, Anna was not happy. Unsatisfied with the roles that she received while in Hollywood, Anna decided to head to Europe. There she starred in many notable films and plays, such as Piccadilly. She also received many featured roles during the early sound era, in movies such as Shanghai Express with Marlene Dietrich.
After a disappointing rejection from MGM for the leading role in Pearl S. Bucks The Good Earth, Anna moved to Paramount and worked in several movies that portrayed Chinese Americans in a positive light.
When World War II broke out, Anna refocused her energy to helping the Chinese cause against the Japanese. She donated her money and auctioned off her Hollywood costumes in efforts to help the Chinese refugees.
After a 6 year absence from the film industry, Anna returned in 1949 with the movie Impact. In 1951, Anna May Wong was given her own television series The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, which was the first American television show to have an Asian American lead.
Anna May Wong died in 1961 at the age of 56, while sleeping in her Santa Monica home.
She has been credited with "humanizing" Chinese Americans in the eyes of white America during times of discrimination and racism.
Way to go Anna!