Celebrating Hollywood Icon Anna May Wong

By Amanda Crastz-Flores
November 22, 2022

U.S. Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson speaking into a microphone
U.S. Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson participates in a panel discussion at Paramount Pictures.

The fifth quarter of the American Women Quarters™ (AWQ) Program, and the last quarter of 2022, honors Chinese American film star Anna May Wong. The U.S. Mint celebrated the release of the Anna May Wong Quarter at several events in California throughout November. From Hollywood to San Francisco, the Mint introduced the public to the quarter, the AWQ Program, and the Mint.

As the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood, Anna May Wong left a lasting legacy for Asian American women in the entertainment industry. Her career spanned motion pictures, television, and theater. Wong appeared in more than 60 movies, including silent films and one of the first Technicolor films. She also starred in London and New York stage productions. Throughout her career, Anna May Wong championed the need for increased representation and more multi-dimensional roles for Asian American actors.

Anna Wong speaks at a podium
Anna Wong, niece of Anna May Wong, speaks at an event at Paramount Pictures.

On November 4, the Mint joined the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, where Anna May Wong starred in many movies. U.S. Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson attended the event and participated in a rich panel discussion alongside film producer Nina Bongiovi and representatives from the Smithsonian and NWHM. Anna Wong, niece of Anna May Wong, provided special remarks and celebrated the new quarter honoring her aunt’s legacy.

On November 15 in San Francisco, the Asian American Pacific Islander (APA) Heritage Foundation, the San Francisco Public Library, and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) in collaboration with the Mint, hosted a special documentary screening. The film, Anna May Wong: In her Own Words, by Yunah Hong explores the life and legacy of Anna May Wong. Stephen Gong, executive director of CAAM, introduced the screening.

Gong also moderated a panel discussion. Michele Thompson, American Women Quarters Program Lead for the Mint, and actors Joan Chen and Krista Marie Yu participated in the discussion. The conversation focused on Asian Americans in the media. Participants also reflected on how Anna May Wong excelled to pursue her dreams and expanded representation for Asian Americans in the film industry.

Thompson presented Claudine Cheng with a shadow box for her leadership and ongoing efforts to celebrate and raise awareness about Asian culture in the community. The shadow box contained two Anna May Wong quarters from the first day of production.

The Mint also introduced schoolchildren in San Francisco to the Anna May Wong Quarter. John Chu, the Mint’s Branch Chief of the Office of Corporate Communications, presented the work of the United States Mint and the American Women Quarters Program to a fourth grade class at Gordon J. Lau Elementary School. The students and staff learned about the Mint and Anna May Wong. The Mint gave the students educational materials to continue learning about coins and the American Women Quarters.

Over 1,000 individuals at these November events received a 2022 AWQ coin board to encourage coin collecting and bring awareness to the accomplishments of the 2022 honorees.

Michele Thompson standing at a podium
Michele Thompson speaks at an event in San Francisco.

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