By Paula Yoo
Illustrated by Lin Wang
Born in 1905, Anna May Wong spent her childhood working in her family’s laundry in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. Whenever she could afford it, Anna May slipped off to the movies, escaping to a world of adventure, glamour, and excitement. After seeing a movie being filmed in her neighborhood, young Anna May was hooked. She decided she would become a movie star!
Anna May struggled to pursue an acting career in Hollywood in the 1930s. There were very few roles for Asian Americans, and many were demeaning and stereotypical. Anna May made the most of each limited part. She worked hard and always gave her best performance. Finally, after years of unfulfilling roles, Anna May began crusading for more meaningful roles for herself and other Asian American actors.
Anna May Wong—the first Chinese American movie star—was a pioneer of the cinema. Her spirited determination in the face of discrimination is an inspiration to all who must overcome obstacles so that their dreams may come true.
Video Interview with author Paula Yoo
Best Children's Books of the Year
Bank Street College of Education
Carter G. Woodson Award
National Council for the Social Studies
Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)
- Interest Level
- Grades 1 - 6
- Reading Level
- Grades 3 - 4
- Art, Asian/Asian American Interest, Biography, Discrimination, Dreams & Aspirations, Overcoming Obstacles, Self Esteem/Identity, Nonfiction
Paula Yoo is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College. She is a television writer and freelance violinist living in Los Angeles. Her TV credits include The West Wing and Eureka.
Lin Wang is a classically trained portrait painter with a Masters in Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has illustrated several books for children, and her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show. Wang lives with her husband, son, and daughter in Freemont, California. You can visit her on the web at linstudio.com.