Trailblazing Movie Star Anna May Wong Will Be the First Asian American to Appear on U.S. Currency

Anna May Wong will be on a new quarter, which begins shipping on October 24

Anna May Wong will make history as the first Asian American on US currency
Anna May Wong. Photo: U.S. Mint via Getty, Bettmann Archive/Getty

Anna May Wong, considered to be the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood, is getting her own quarter.

The late star's quarter, which is set to begin shipping on Oct. 24, is the fifth coin in the United States Mint American Women Quarters™ Program, which honors trailblazing women.

Wong, who died in 1961, got the first leading role of her career in the 1922 silent film The Toll of the Sea. The actress went on to make history in 1951 with her role in The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, becoming the first Asian American lead in a U.S. television show.

"The fifth coin in our American Women Quarters Program honors Anna May Wong, a courageous advocate who championed for increased representation and more multi-dimensional roles for Asian American actors," Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson said in a statement. "This quarter is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of accomplishments by Anna May Wong, who overcame challenges and obstacles she faced during her lifetime."

Anna May Wong
Anna May Wong (1905-1961), US actress, wearing a sleeveless white top, posing with her arms folded in a dramatically-lit studio portrait , against a tiger skin background, circa 1930. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images). Silver Screen Collection/Getty

On the coin, Wong is featured resting her head on her hand with flapper-era bangs while framed by dots, which represent marquee lights.

"Many prominent actors from the 1920s and 1930s saw their name framed by lightbulbs on movie theater marquees, so I thought it made sense to feature Anna May Wong in this way," Emily Damstra, who designed the coin for the United States Mint, said in a press release.

According to The New York Times, the U.S. Mint is expected to create more than 300 million quarters, and in doing so, Wong will become the first Asian American to appear on U.S. currency.

In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Mint, a new US quarter dollar is seen featuring, Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood. The quarter is part of the American Women Quarters (AWQ) Program, The U.S. Mint has begun minting the first of 20 quarters honoring selected American women through 2025.
U.S. Mint via Getty

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human-interest stories.

Wong's career spanned into silent films, sound films, television and theater.

After dropping out of Los Angeles High School to pursue acting full-time in 1921, she earned her first screen credit in Bits of Life.

RELATED VIDEO: Nicole Aunapu Mann Becomes First Native American Woman in Space I Hope It 'Will Inspire'

Wong was continually offered small roles in films and was turned away from starring as a leading lady, causing her to move to Europe in 1928 in search of better roles.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

In 1960, the year before her death, Wong was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. When Lucy Liu became the second Asian American to receive a star in 2019, she thanked the late actress for helping pave the way.

"She is remembered as an international film star, fashion icon, television trailblazer, and a champion for greater representation of Asian Americans in film," the U.S. Mint wrote in their news release. "She continues to inspire actors and filmmakers today."

Related Articles