Michelle Yeoh Choo-Khengv was born to a prominent ethnic Chinese family in Ipoh, Malaysia, on 6 August 1962. Her parents are Janet Yeoh and Yeoh Kian Teik, a lawyer and MCA politician. She was keen on dance from an early age, beginning ballet at the age of four. At the age of 15, she moved with her parents to England, where she was enrolled in a boarding school. Michelle later studied at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, majoring in ballet. However, a spinal injury prevented her from becoming a professional ballet dancer, and she transferred her attention to choreography and other arts. She later received a B.A. degree in Creative Arts with a minor in Drama.
In 1983, at the age of 21, Michelle won the Miss Malaysia beauty pageant. She was also Malaysia’s representative at the 1983 Miss World pageant in London. From there, she appeared in a television commercial with Jackie Chan which caught the attention of a fledgling Hong Kong film production company, D&B Films. She is credited as Michelle Khan in some of her earlier films. This alias was chosen by the D&B studio who thought it might be more marketable to international and western audiences. Michelle later preferred using her real name.
Michelle’s career in Hong Kong started with a few commercials for Charles Jourdan, opposite action movie heroes Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-fat before being offered a film contract.
The Charles Jourdan brand was handled by D&B Group in Hong Kong, run by Michelle’s future husband, Dickson Poon. In 1988, she retired from acting after marrying Poon. Three years later, the couple divorced and Michelle returned to acting in 1992.
Her first movie after the comeback was Police Story 3: Super Cop, which was partly shot in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Michelle also modeled for The Body Shop and L’Oreal.
She is best known in the Western world for her roles in the 1997 James Bondhttp://www.beautifulmalaysian.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=48&action=edit film Tomorrow Never Dies, playing Wai Lin, and the multiple Academy Award-winning Chinese-language martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for which she was nominated the BAFTA for “Best Actress”.
In 2008, the film critic website Rotten Tomatoes ranked her the greatest action heroine of all time.
In 2009, she was listed by People magazine – as the only Asian actress – as one of the “35 All-Time Screen Beauties”