UCSB Professor Explores the Extraordinary Life of Hollywood Icon Anna May Wong in “Daughter of the Dragon”

By the edhat staff

Renowned UC Santa Barbara professor and author Yunte Huang has delved into the captivating life of one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures in his latest book, “Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History.” Drawing from extensive research, Huang’s compelling biography provides an intimate portrayal of the trailblazing actress who broke barriers and defied stereotypes during the early years of the film industry.

Anna May Wong, born in 1905 in Los Angeles to Chinese immigrant parents, faced numerous challenges and discrimination as she pursued her dreams in the entertainment world. Despite a limited range of roles available to Asian-American actors at the time, Wong forged a path for herself and became one of the first Chinese-American actresses to gain international recognition.

Huang, a professor of English Literature at UC Santa Barbara and a Guggenheim Fellow, meticulously researched Wong’s life and career for his book. He skillfully weaves together a narrative that celebrates Wong’s achievements while shedding light on the racial prejudices and inequities she encountered throughout her career.


He explored Wong’s early exposure to the film industry and her determination to challenge the status quo. In an interview with WBUR’s Here & Now that aired on NPR, Huang shared, “I was surprised to find out how modern she was for her time. She was ahead of her game, and she knew that.”

Through meticulous research and engaging storytelling, “Daughter of the Dragon” unveils pivotal moments in Wong’s career, such as her breakthrough role in 1922’s “The Toll of the Sea” and her international success in Europe. Huang also emphasizes Wong’s agency in turning down stereotypical roles, opting instead for more complex and authentic portrayals.

Huang’s book offers deep insights into the personal journey of Anna May Wong, including the challenges she faced in navigating her Chinese heritage and American identity.

As both a professor and an acclaimed author, Huang blends academic rigor with storytelling prowess. His expertise in Asian-American literature and culture brings a unique perspective to Wong’s life and legacy. The biography offers readers an opportunity to discover the remarkable achievements of a woman who defied societal expectations and left an indelible mark on the silver screen.

“Daughter of the Dragon” by Yunte Huang promises to captivate readers with its meticulous research, engaging storytelling, and in-depth exploration of Anna May Wong’s extraordinary life. Huang’s work stands as a testament to Wong’s talent, resilience, and her pioneering contributions to the entertainment industry.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. I really enjoy the watercolor artwork of Dong Kingman and wondered if there was a connection with Anna May Wong. It turns out late in her career, Wong was set to play the aunt in Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Flower Drum Song” for which Kingman painted the movie’s opening artwork and movie posters. Sadly, Wong fell ill and passed away before filming and the role went to another actor:
    With movies like Joy Luck Club, Crazy Rich Asians, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Joy Ride, etc. so much has changed, and yet stayed the same, since Wong graced the screen. Nice review of Huang’s book here:

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