Actress Anna May Wong Appears on New US Quarter

Anna May Wong is the first Asian American to appear on US currency.

Do you or anyone you know collect special coins? The US Department of Treasury issues our currency. Currency is the coins and paper money we use to buy things. Sometimes the department creates special coins. This year, it started the American Women Quarters Program. This program is creating quarters to honor important women in United States history.

Actress Anna May Wong is now the fifth woman to be featured on an American Women Quarter. Her quarter was issued on October 24. She was Hollywood’s first Chinese American film star. She is now the first Asian American to appear on US money. The American Women Quarters still have George Washington on their heads, or front sides. The tail, or back, of each quarter features the woman being honored. The latest quarter in the series has a close-up image of Wong resting her chin on her hand.

Wong was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1903. As a child, she watched movies being filmed in the Chinatown neighborhood in Los Angeles. She dreamed of one day being a movie star. Her acting career began at age fourteen when she was chosen to be an extra in the film, The Red Lantern. At age seventeen, she got her first starring role in The Toll of the Sea.

Working in Hollywood during that time was difficult for Asian Americans. Wong faced discrimination. Often, people would not give her parts in movies just because she was Asian American. Still, she worked hard and became a famous actress. She acted in more than sixty films in her lifetime. The Anna May Wong Quarter celebrates her achievements as an international film star. It also honors the work she did to get greater representation for Asian Americans in the movie industry.

What Do You Think: Do you think featuring someone on a coin is a good way to honor them? Why or why not?

Photo Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, [LC-USZ62-135273]