Thousands of people from Hong Kong have signed a petition to remove actor Donnie Yen as an Oscar presenter due to his support for the Chinese government. Activist Tong Wai-hung started a Change.org petition to have the 59-year-old actor removed as a presenter at the Academy Awards on March 12. The petition has received over 97,000 signatures as of writing.
According to the petition, the actor’s comments over the 2019 Hong Kong protests have angered a group of people from the country. Yen sparked the controversy with his comments in February 2023 during an interview with GQ, where he restarted his opposition to democratic protests in the country in 2019.
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“It wasn’t a protest, okay, it was a riot. I’m not going to be here talking about how to change how people feel about it. But my own experience, like, I was there, I have many friends who were there. I don’t want to get political. A lot of people might not be happy with what I’m saying, but I’m speaking from my own experience,” he said.
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Who is Donnie Yen?
Donnie Yen is an actor, martial artist, and action director. He is widely regarded for bringing mixed martial arts (MMA) into mainstream Asian cinema by choreographing MMA in many of his films since the early 2000s.
Donnie was born on July 27, 1963, in Guangzhou, China. His father, Kylster Yen, was a newspaper editor and amateur musician, and his mother, Bow-sim Mark, a kung fu master.
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He was just two years old when the family moved to Hong Kong. When he was 11, they moved to Boston, Massachusetts.
Yen is one of the most popular action stars in Hong Kong. He introduced MMA into popular Asian cinema. Since the early 2000s, he choreographed MMA in numerous films. The first Chinese UFC champion, Zhang Weili, asserts that Yen’s films introduced her to MMA.
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He is well-skilled in several Olympic sports, including Tai Chai, Boxing, Wushu, Wing Chun, and many more. He is one of the highest-paid actors in Asia. In 2013, he earned $28.4 million from four films and six endorsements.
Yen received international recognition for playing Chirrut Îmwe in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016. In 2017, he played the role of Xiang in Return of Xander Cage. After that, he played Commander Tung in Disney’s live-action Mulan in 2020.
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He met his first wife Leung Zing-ci in 1990. They got married in November 1993 but the marriage ended in less than a year. Their son Jeff was born in 1995.
Later, Yen married former beauty queen Cissy Wang after three months of dating in 2003. The couple has two children, Jasmine and James.