Author Interview: Yunte Huang (Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History)

This week, we’re talking with Yunte Huang about his new biography of movie star Anna May Wong, Daughter of the Dragon.

A trenchant reclamation of the Chinese American movie star, whose battles against cinematic exploitation and endemic racism are set against the currents of twentieth-century history.

Learn more about Yunte Huang and his books at

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Vulgar History Podcast

Author Interview: Yunte Huang (Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History)

August 23, 2023

Hello and welcome to Vulgar History, a feminist women’s history comedy podcast. My name is Ann Foster. Today, I am delighted to bring you a conversation I had with author Yunte Huang who is the author of a new book called Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History. This is a new biography of Anna May Wong who is becoming better and better known lately. I think there’s recently been, we talk about this, in America there was a coin, a quarter was released with her portrait on it; Barbie released a special doll of her. She’s been looked at more and more lately which is great because in her life she was extremely famous but also faced a lot of challenges as a Chinese American actress in Hollywood.

She was born in a Chinese laundry in turn-of-the-century Los Angeles and just growing up in Los Angeles, around the movie industry, she made her way to becoming an actress in movies. Yunte and I talk about her, some highlights of her life story. He gets into it all in much more detail in his book, but I just thought a lot of people may not know who she is or may only vaguely know who she is, and I wanted to really whet your appetite about how much there is to know about Anna May Wong and why you should all read this book. So, please enjoy this conversation with Yunte Huang.


Ann: So, welcome Yunte. I’m so glad to be able to talk to you about this fascinating new book that you’ve written.

Yunte: Thank you for having me.

Ann: My first question for you is do you remember when you first learned about who Anna May Wong was?

Yunte: Well, she was my great aunt if you don’t mind me saying so.

Ann: I didn’t know that connection! [laughs]

Yunte: I’m sorry it’s a joke. [chuckles] It’s a joke.

Ann: Oh okay. [laughs]

Yunte: Because actually, Wong and Huang are the same family name just spelled differently. As you may know, in China, if you share the family name then if you go back 500 years, you are in the same family. Anyway, I imagine somewhere in this universe I’m connected to her because of the same last name.

But anyway, I think the first time I heard of her… As you know, I wasn’t born in this country, I grew up in China, I went to college there and then came here after college and then I got stuck. I think one of those years in the United States I had first heard of her.

Ann: I’m trying to remember when I first heard of her as well. I think it was probably recently because she’s had quite a resurgence in popularity lately.

Yunte: Yeah, I would say she’s having her moment, thank god.

Ann: And it just connects well, I think your biography is perfectly timed because people, like myself, want to know more about her. There was this coin that came out in the United States.

Yunte: Absolutely. Yeah, the US quarter. I’ve been collecting them actually. [laughs] My plan is that when my book comes out in late August when I go do book signings and talks, I’ll be handing out Anna May Wong quarters for each reader that will come to me with a book.

Ann: Oh, that’s beautiful. So, what I’m hoping we can talk about today a bit is just for people who have vaguely heard of her or people who have never heard of her, just to explain the highlights of her life, which I know is a big question because there’s an awful lot of exciting things.

Yunte: Yeah, absolutely.

Ann: If you could just start explaining where did she come from? What were her parents doing? What city was she in?

Yunte: Right. Her story, you could say, is sort of like a typical Hollywood story, or like the Barbie film which is going around right now. She’s always looked at as a China doll; we can talk about that in greater detail. But in a nutshell, she was born in Los Angeles in the beginning of the 20th century, 1905, in her father’s little Chinese laundry. Her story, in a nutshell, is really her rise from the steam and stodge of a Chinese laundry to global stardom and becoming one of the most visible Chinese icons in the 20th century. She was also a fashion icon as well. She really had this talent and unique ability to bring, let’s say, working-class objects such as “coolie hat” and “coolie jacket,” and turned those into high fashion. So, she has this kind of ability both on-screen and off-screen.

But unfortunately, you speak of highlights, my interest at the time was really to look behind the spectacle and the glamour and see what lies underneath. So, the highlights of her life were really the rise but also what stopped her from going any further. I guess most people were drawn, attracted by her beauty apparently as a film star. But her looks in some ways were exactly what prevented her from going any further because she was Chinese and unfortunately, she lived in a period when Chinese were regarded as too Chinese to play a Chinese, if you can… [chuckles] It’s a kind of tongue twister.

Ann: And in your book… What was happening in world history during her whole life, there were so many… The context, you really get into the Chinese Exclusion Act, you talk about, and then when the Hays Code came out saying there can’t be any mixed-race kisses in movies and things. Every step of the way there were things getting in her way.

Yunte: Oh, absolutely. Her birth, she was born in Los Angeles and just three decades earlier, there was the Chinese massacre in this sleepy town now we know as Los Angeles. She was born in an environment that was very hostile to Chinese. But interestingly, as I describe in the book, Chinatown was inseparable from Hollywood or vice versa. So, in a way, she was lucky to be there when Hollywood came to Chinatown because of the exoticism. Early films often take advantage of the realist kind of street scenes in Chinatown; the laundry, for instance, the robotic movement and everything. So, she was almost perfect made for early cinema. So, that was the kind of moment how her story taps into what’s going on in the world in a larger context.

And then when she felt kind of fed up with Hollywood in the early part of her career, she went to Europe. So, she arrived in Germany in 1928, Weimar Republic, and basically, Germany was dancing on the edge of a volcano because right before the rise of Nazism, for a short span of about a decade, Germany witnessed this sudden explosion of creativity right before Hitler’s rise. So, she was there, and she was hanging out with Marlene Dietrich and Hitler’s camerawoman later on known as Riefenstahl, Leni Riefenstahl. So, she was hanging out with them as well and then she went to England. So, that again shows her trajectory tapped into the significant events of world history.

And then of course her visit to China in 1936 right before the Japanese invasion and then moving to the Second World War period in which she was also very active to campaign for war relief and everything. So, every step of the way you can see her rise, her fall. I really want to describe that as a virtual form of foot binding for a Chinese woman, the Hollywood racism, but also gender. And later on, for instance, I spent a lot of time talking about ageism against women, especially a headache for Hollywood. A big problem still exists today. And so, her story really, I think for me, taps into so many things that we sometimes would like to forget.

Ann: Can you talk about her… Right from the beginning, I found her such a fascinating and, I don’t know, the ambition, I guess. The clarity with which she knew she wanted to be an actress. You talked about her as a small child; her sister wants one doll, and she wants a bunch of little dolls so she can act out the stories herself. She was a storyteller right away, it sounds like.

Yunte: Oh, absolutely. And now she’s the big doll. Mattel just issued a very timely Anna May Wong doll for that matter, so she can be in everybody’s collection of dolls. Yes, absolutely, early years she dreamed of becoming a film star, and who wouldn’t in those years? If you’re growing up in the early 20th century when film was just rising, that gave every boy or girl this dream because you know, watching this thing called a cinema, a film, is such a new excitement in terms of technology. Today, every child has a phone, so I constantly have problems teaching students who are constantly on the phone in class. So, imagine that and the film was such a brand-new thing for the world at that time and inevitably… At the time it was called at the time movie-struck girls, it’s kind of again, a sexist term because it describes usually any American girl growing up way west, many of them would just buy one-way train tickets to come to LA and step off the train and whatever happens to them… You know these stories. For Anna May Wong, however, she didn’t need to go to Hollywood, Hollywood came to her, like I said, because the film crew would often come to Chinatown for the ready-made sets. So, she was hanging out and all that.

Her debut, as you know, was in a silent film, 1919, called The Red Lantern and she was one of the actors, lantern carriers. She was so excited about her debut. When the film came out, she starved herself for a week to save the lunch money so she could proudly take her friends to the show. And then they sat up in the upper gallery of this theatre and then of course when the scenes came out, she couldn’t find where she was. So, her friends said, “Which one are you?” [chuckles] And she said, “I don’t know, maybe the outside one.”

Despite all that, again, because of her tenacity and her beauty and everything, this was a very important step in her career, you know, Alla Nazimova, this Ukrainian actress who was really one of the… I think what would be called the queen of silent film. Alla Nazimova was the woman I would say like Marilyn Monroe in the 1910s and ‘20s, she was one of the first silent stars. She rose and became really rich and bought a Spanish house on Sunset Boulevard. At the time it was a very dusty countryside area, but she bought a big house and designed a pool in the shape of the Black Sea in honour of her birthplace.

So, Anna May Wong, as a teenager, was sort of recruited, or in today’s lingo we would say groomed in some ways because Alla Nazimova is the one who coined the term called the “sewing circle,” it’s a discreet code for lesbian and homosexual actors called the sewing circle. So, Anna May Wong was going around joining the parties in those years and that gave her some connection to Hollywood, opening a bigger door. So, a lot of early actresses came through what was at the time called Alla’s Garden, which is the club for young women, Hollywood-inspired young women.

Ann: And so, you talk about, throughout the book you describe her various films and what the characters were that she was given to perform. Can you explain the sorts of roles she had to take because that’s what was available to a Chinese woman?

Yunte: Right. As you mentioned earlier, because of the Hays Code, which kind of doomed her career because her Chinese woman cannot kiss or be kissed by a white man. That basically doomed her for any kind of lead role. Despite all that, her first biggest film was The Toll of the Sea, 1922, a silent film, but interestingly, she plays this Madame Butterfly character, it’s actually a remake of Madame Butterfly. But it’s interesting that she was given this lead role kind of ironically because it was like the first technicolour film. To test the colour – and this is how cynical the story is, Hollywood is, somewhat insidious – that they need real Chinese or Asian actors in order to test how the colour works. For that reason, she was given the lead role. Not just because of the Madame Butterfly story, because they could have easily cast a white actress in a yellowface because actually earlier, there was another butterfly film earlier by Mary Pickford, so that was a yellowface, but because they needed to test the technology, they cast her.

But of course, she didn’t mind that and took the opportunity, did a great job and went on to play again, not a lead role but a smaller role in this big production in 1924 which is The Thief of Bagdad, that’s the Douglas Fairbanks. She was fantastic in that film. But like I said, despite all these great performances, she was not given any more lead roles and that’s why she took off for Europe.

There, I think she really turned herself, she left America as a flapper wearing chic clothing and turned herself in Europe into really a global star. I’m not saying there was no racism in Europe but there’s a very different kind of environment. The fact that she was both American and Chinese gave her a way into the European market. In some ways, the European directors didn’t really know what to make of her, whether she was Chinese or American. But either way, it worked out for her.

Her biggest film, I would say, is Piccadilly, made in England in 1929. That was really a swansong of the silent era. She was cast in the most provocative and erotic role, and she showed off all her talent, dancing, but of course, it’s a silent film. So, if you were to ask me what is my favourite, I would say Piccadilly. It’s almost like film noir-ish because there’s murder and the end, and also the Limehouse scene, the typical Chinatown, eerie environment and then there’s a connection to the posh, you know, West End club scene as well. So, everything is going on in that film.

Ann: So, you mentioned that was sort of the swansong of the silent era. She just lived through so many changes, even in the development of the film industry and then the switch to talking movies. Not every actor survived that switch, but she was able to.

Yunte: Not at all. A lot of famous silent stars fell by the wayside. The minute you start talking, one syllable will dispel the whole magic, the perfect image they had curated all these years in a silent film. The same thing happened the Anna May Wong, not in film, first. Piccadilly, she had a fantastic performance, and she was really the talk of the town in London and I’m not saying she would draw fans like The Beatles but British gentlemen and girls would flock to her outside theatres and the British girls would imitate her, called “Anna May Wong bang,” the hairstyle, and the complexion as well, they would paint their faces and call it the “Anna May Wong complexion” as well. Imagine that.

So, once again, ironically, because of her success, she was asked to play a lead role in theatre in a kind of translated Chinese play called A Circle of Chalk. And the moment she spoke, on the stage, the critics were still attracted by her talent and performance. But what they called her “California twang” came out and it was quite shocking and that’s when she realized, okay, she needed to make the transition. So, she spent a lot of money, I think it was 200 guineas one lesson, hired a coach from Oxford University to study voice. Only then she was able to make the transition. So, she left America speaking with a California twang, she came home in 1930 effecting upper-class British accent. I’m not saying it’s fake, but she was very talented in fashioning herself, turning herself into a marketable actress. That’s her profession, like all actors today they need to do something in order to be marketable.

Ann: And then can we talk about her trip to China? She was Chinese American, but she’d never been to China until she took this very significant trip.

Yunte: Absolutely. Like many Chinese Americans born in this country, we’ve heard so many stories about the great country out there. So yes, she left for China in 1936, after once again, having her heart broken because she really wanted this big role in The Good Earth based on Pearl Buck’s novel. That was really the biggest Chinese film at the time of those years and she really wanted O-lan in this role but again, it was given to, as you know, an Austrian actress, Luise Rainer in a yellowface performance but to Rainer’s credit, she won an Oscar for that role. But Anna May Wong was really pissed off, so she took off to China to visit her fatherland, ancestral land, where her father had already retired from his laundry business in LA and moved to China with her siblings. So, it was kind of natural for her to go to China.

So, imagine Shanghai pre-war. Right before the war, it was such a magical place. If you know for instance, Emily Hahn another very famous American who turned herself into a legend, scandalizing Shanghai, you can look into that, it was a kind of mind-boggling place before the war broke out. There was also, later on, there were Jewish refugees and everything. So, Anna May Wong went there and was astonished by, “Is this really China that I’ve heard so much about?” In comparison, she would write letters to her friends and say, “Wow! Compared to say, to Shanghai, Hollywood is like backwater. It’s so quiet as if nothing was going on and in Shanghai, everything is going on.”

And then when she went to Hong Kong, another Chinese city, colonized by British and turning into again, another international hub, she met… Just giving an example of the kind of people she met and what she learned from all that for those nine months. In Hong Kong, for instance, she met this Grand Old Man of Hong Kong, that was his nickname, he was actually the son of Moses Bosman who was a Dutch Jewish merchant who basically made a fortune out of Chinese “coolie” trade. And the reason I mention this story was not just because of her family connection, the background of Chinese “coolies” coming from Canton to make it in America and thanks to Maurice Bosman, but actually because of Bruce Lee. Did you know Bruce Lee was Jewish? That Bruce Lee, who turned kung fu into an English word. And Bruce Lee, in fact, his great-grandfather, Moses Bosman was Jewish. So, Bruce Lee was one-eighth Jewish, one-fourth British, and five-eighths Chinese. Lo and behold, who would know that?

So, Anna May Wong met with Bruce Lee’s great uncle and, you know, talking Cantonese and all that and of course at the time, Bruce Lee nowhere, wasn’t born yet. But what I’m saying, the trajectory, if you look at a story, how it’s connected to all this Bruce Lee, of course, represented Asian masculinity whereas Anna May Wong, however you want to put it, she was somewhere between a Madame Butterfly, China doll and a dragon lady, this kind of intimidating image and a timid Chinese girl. So, this iconography, these stories are somehow all interconnected through her trajectory.

Ann: I found it really interesting because you mentioned she was always seen as this fashionable, chic woman and then when she went to China, she made a decision to start embracing Chinese fashion. Can you talk about that?

Yunte: So, I wouldn’t say she introduced qipao, cheongsam to the West but she definitely is a person who wore that clothing the best and turned that into a global kind of trend. So, yeah, over there, when she landed in Shanghai and then Peking, she saw the new trend on the street, modern Chinese girls wearing cheongsam or qipao in Chinese. So, she started ordering expensive silk in order to turn them into a design that is more adaptable for Caucasian women, when she brought them back. So, she was kind of a cultural go-between in many ways. Eventually, she came back, the initial purpose actually of her trip to China was not just to visit her family and her father but also to study Chinese theatre. As a result, she also brought back Chinese theatre dresses along with this qipao. 

So Hollywood, there was a big party in 1938, the video is still available on YouTube, it’s a Hollywood party in which Anna May Wong introduced the clothes she just brought back. She was wearing this yellow-gold qipao which was cut in Peking, and she brought it back and it’s something Chinese women had worn for thousands of years. Again, she’s importing, introducing one important aspect of Chinese culture, in this case, it’s fashion.

Ann: It was so interesting that, as you described, when she started acting in Hollywood she was seen as too Chinese to play Chinese. She was born in America, she had an American accent and then after this trip to China it seemed like she really embraced that side of things, she was really moved by what she learned about the theatre and the fashion and the culture.

Yunte: Right. You know, I said that in the book she was going to China to look for her Chinese soul and the question is whether or not she had found it. But it leaves no doubt, when she came back, the Sino-Japanese War broke out and it became a no-brainer that she would fully embrace her Chinese identity in that context, not just because of war relief but the war also touched her very personally quite deeply because her family was back there.

When the Japanese bombed Shanghai in 1937, called the Bloody Saturday, her brother had just fortunately left Shanghai a few hours before for Hong Kong. But unfortunately, her sister, Mary, for instance, she was not hurt in the bombing, but she suffered from PTSD because shrapnel destroyed her office building in Shanghai. So, when Mary eventually came back home to Hollywood, unfortunately, a few years later, she suffered from depression and everything, especially PTSD, and Mary committed suicide. So, the war touched her very deeply, as you can see how active she was in the war relief for China and then when Pearl Harbour happened, when America was involved in the war, she became even more active and went around the country raising money for war relief in Asia.

Ann: Throughout the book, I was always impressed by whenever she chose to do something she committed to it so entirely. When she wanted to be an actress, when she wanted to be a theatre actor, and then the war relief, she did everything with such passion, it was very inspiring in a way.

Yunte: Right. But once again, even there you see how the world tried to stop her. Just give an example, she made this film called The Lady from Chungking, right, at the time was the wartime capital for China. It was a war propaganda film and one of the most important films she made after her stardom. But she wasn’t really the face of China’s war relief in those years. When the real so-called Lady from Chungking, Madame Chiang Kai-shek came to the United States for a speaking tour and they eventually, Hollywood rolled out the red carpet to welcome Madame Chiang Kai-shek. The finale of the celebration was a big event at the Hollywood Bowl. The only one who was missing, not invited to the occasion was Anna May Wong. So, once again, you see how whole-heartedly she devoted herself to whatever she set her mind to but somehow, she encountered these obstacles. That’s really one of the stories I want to share.

Ann: And that’s such an important thing about her life story. There’s so much, when I was reading, I thought, “Wow, her strength and her resiliency,” but it’s obviously terrible that she had to be so strong and resilient all the time because something was always getting her way, often racism.

Yunte: Right, yeah. This is really, again, speaking in a self-reflective mode, speaking of myself, I’m drawn to these stories like Anna May Wong or my two earlier books, Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, or the Charlie Chan book, Chang Apana and all that, this is a kind of trilogy of what I call the Asian American history. I’m interested in looking at how or interested in telling the Asian American story in the making of American culture. I would call it the subversive genealogy of Asian Americans and these cultural icons. But I really want to show the extra mental, psychic emotional costs for ethnic minorities in this country, just to become, just to be like everybody else, what extra steps you have to take. There are always extra costs. In her case, it became really accented and emphasized and foregrounded.

Ann: And I would presume that’s part of what led to the fact that she died quite young. Living with this level of stress, for lack of a better word, that would contribute to lots of physical symptoms.

Yunte: Absolutely. I’m sure you know Sunset Boulevard, the film, Norma Desmond. I’m not saying this is an Anna May Wong portrait at all but there are a lot of similarities, we can talk more about it if we have time, maybe not. But just the kind of nutshell, Anna May Wong in her late years, she was only actually late 40s and early 50s, in depression she turned to the bottle like many Hollywood actors in those years. So, I imagine her, this global icon for decades now a lonely celibate, lonely woman, unmarried and living in a house by herself, and so she would have a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other. Eventually, it destroyed her health.

Ann: So many female stars in this era, as soon as they turned, I don’t know, 35… It’s a similar thing that happens to so many people and for her, it had this extra level of how much she had struggled just to get roles in the first place and now she was an older woman, she’s Asian, things have I don’t think gotten any better in terms of trying to find roles for Asian people by the time she was in her 40s and 50s.

Yunte: Not at all actually. So, that’s why I, as I said earlier, people are drawn to the spectacles and the glamour, but I’m really interested in what lies underneath all that. Her later career or life really tells a very revealing story about not just Hollywood but overall, what’s in our culture even today in some ways. So, the Sunset Boulevard analogy is quite à propos.

Ann: Why do you think there’s an interest nowadays? Why do you think Anna May Wong… There’s the coin, there’s the Barbie doll… Why do you think she’s having this resurgence?

Yunte: That’s a big question, certainly. [laughs] I need to look up my book of change to find out what is happening, but I would say I think it’s a confluence of many things. If you look around at what’s going on in Hollywood, in films. I can name a number of factors. For quite a few decades, Chinese money which was funding a lot of the Hollywood mega films has certainly had to do with increasing Chinese visibility or interest in Asians. On Netflix, Korean films as well, and I’m talking about East Asian or Asian films in general, the rise, the interest in Asian stories. So that, but also you know, Crazy Rich Asians, for instance, a blockbuster film and Michelle Yeoh winning the Oscar and everything.

Historians like to look for explanations but of course, it’s always hindsight. We are still in this moment, I wouldn’t venture into any guesses or even educated guesses, but I want to draw attention to the past, and how we got here. It’s easy in this celebratory moment that we say, “Okay, now we are good.” But actually, as you said earlier, many things are still the same. So, the shining surface, you need to look underneath what’s happening there.

Ann: And I think that’s part of what struck me about reading your book about Anna May Wong was I think it’s still very similar for many actors in Hollywood to try and find a role that’s worthy of their talents and then after you have one role, trying to find the next one and those struggles, I think it’s still quite similar and her story is universal in that way. It’s specific as a Chinese American woman but as anyone trying to make it in Hollywood, I think a lot of people would relate to her struggles.

Yunte: Absolutely. That’s why I think I’m drawn not just to her success, the rise, I’m really looking at what’s happening, as I say, like a fishing season or fishing off-season sometimes, you don’t know what you’re going to find, what roads will come to you. Her late career really interested me a great deal when I was doing research and writing, and I spent a lot of time digging into what it’s like really. But on a kind of sunnier side, we have given to her, despite her depression and suffering, all the pains that she went through, she’s really a brave spirit and she’s a great joker. As I found out, she’s a brilliant writer, barely finishing high school but she managed to write beautifully. But she had this ironic, tongue-in-cheek mannerism. She would say, “Orientally yours,” sign her publicity photos in such a way and she would say, “Confucius didn’t say this,” before she pulled off another deadpan. And she loved, even in her late years, she loved telling corny jokes.

Ann: Those things, what you mentioned, her sense of humour and everything, it really comes across in your book, her as a whole person. I came into the book, I’d seen The Thief of Bagdad years ago at a silent film event and I had thought, “That’s Anna May Wong. She’s so captivating to watch in a movie,” and I’d always wanted to learn more about her and then her story and who she was, as you describe it… It was so much more interesting than I ever would have thought.

So, your book is coming out toward the end of August, are you going to be doing any sort of events or things around when the book launch happens?

Yunte: Oh, you bet. [both laugh] So, one thing I have to do, and I love doing is driving up and down the coast in California doing quite a few bookstore events all the way from locally in Santa Barbara but all the way from San Francisco down to La Jolla in San Diego.

Ann: And so, if people want to find out where those events are going to be, is it listed on your website or is there another place they can look?

Yunte: I would say check the bookstores, local bookstores. I think that would be the best way to go. I’m kind of lazy maintaining my website. [laughs]

Ann: [laughs] Which is fine. So basically, if you’re in California listening to this, check your local bookstore and perhaps there’s something.

Yunte: Yeah, absolutely. I’m doing an event in Pasadena, Vroman’s, and in San Diego, it’ll be D.G. Wills, my favourite bookstore down there. And locally in Santa Barbara is Chaucer’s. And I’m trying to do an event in City Lights, a bookstore in San Francisco.

Ann: That’s wonderful. I’m excited for you to be able to connect with readers and talk about this book with people in person.

Yunte: Yeah and handing out Anna May Wong quarters if you’re interested.

Ann: Yes!

Yunte: These are uncirculated, mint, from the US Mint actually.

Ann: That’s so lovely and it’s just, the timing seemed to work out so well for this book that Anna May Wong is having this resurgence so I think there are a lot of people who have heard about her and will be really interested to read your book to learn more of the story.

Yunte: Well, thank you Ann for having me.


So, again the book is called Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History, it is available now wherever you get your books from. It’s such an interesting book, I just ripped through this whole thing; each next era in Anna’s life was like what’s she going to do next? What forces does she have to work against and how is she going to get through it? It’s such a fascinating book.

I also really appreciated that there are a lot of photographs in it so when Yunte is talking about the different performances she did or photoshoots she did, you can see photos of it and it really just reminds you of how stunningly beautiful, how photogenic, and just how alive she looks in these photos. Of course, people were drawn to her in movies; she stole so many scenes because she’s so fascinating to look at. And then learning about who she is as a person behind the beauty is also so interesting. Anyway, could not recommend this book more. So interesting. I know I’m going to be going down a rabbit hole of looking for Anna May Wong performances online and wherever you can find them streaming because she’s such a fascinating person and her story is so important and has so many resonances to today’s society. So anyway, you can find all the links in the show notes here to learn more about Yunte and to learn more about this book and to learn more about Anna May Wong.

This is Vulgar History, my name is Ann Foster. You can keep up with this show, we’re on Instagram @VulgarHistoryPod, we’re on TikTok @VulgarHistory. If you go to the website we’ve got transcripts for recent episodes if you like to read podcasts you can do that there. Those are courtesy of Aveline Malek of The Wordary. Thank you so much, Aveline, for your incredible transcriptioning of my show.

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Vulgar History is hosted, written, and researched by Ann Foster and edited by Cristina Lumague.

Transcribed by Aveline Malek at


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