Michelle Yeoh, The Road Safety Queen

30 Sep

SINGAPORE: Bond girl, geisha, super action hero and now, an agent for change.

In town for the 2008 SingTel Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix, as well as to commemorate her new status as spokesperson for Vertu, Michelle Yeoh revealed to TODAY her next project: Promoting road safety amongst motorcyclists in developing countries.

The Ipoh-born actress, who is no stranger to risky motorcycle stunts in her movies Tomorrow Never Dies and Silver Hawk, will be advocating attention on the roads and encouraging governments to enforce road safety rules such as donning a helmet, in a documentary.

Said Yeoh: “In Vietnam, there are 26 million motorcyclists alone and it was only last year that they have made wearing a helmet a requirement. In developing countries, there is one child hurt or killed every 30 seconds due to road accidents.

“The road conditions in these countries are bad… When I was in South Africa, there was a road built between a village and a school and even I was afraid to cross it.”

The 46-year-old is a rare example of a performer who has escaped the typical Hollywood stereotype of Asian stars. But while the West often likes to restrict Hong Kong crossovers to gongfu and action flicks, Yeoh points out that Asian stars in Hollywood are merely “playing to their strengths”.

On her recent collaboration with Li and Brendan Fraser in The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Yeoh remarked that it was a “commercial success”.

Said the actress: “Often, what we see in movies is what the audience demands… Sometimes we make movies that are thought-provoking… Other times we make a light-hearted movie. We’re often inspired by our audiences just as much as our viewers are inspired by us.”

Yeoh has been long linked to Frenchman Jean Todt. The former CEO of Scuderia Ferrari resigned in March this year, but will continue to hold a “special appointment” in the firm. –

Channel News Asia

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