Michelle Yeoh has said she is “overwhelmed” by the success of Crazy Rich Asians.
The actress, 56, appears in the film alongside Constance Wu and Henry Golding as part of the first all-Asian cast of a major Hollywood movie in 25 years.
It proved to be a box office smash following its US release this month, earning 25 million dollars (£19.3 million) over its opening weekend.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Yeoh told CNN she was “very emotional” following the success.
She said: “Am I surprised? I am overwhelmed, I’m empowered, I feel very emotional. Nobody really knew how successful (the film would be) until Monday when we got the box office results, and at that moment we realised.
“There seemed to be so much riding on it, our shoulders didn’t seem broad enough to carry all that weight just with one movie. It just shows that the audiences, this is what they’ve been waiting for.”
Crazy Rich Asians’ all-Asian cast is Hollywood’s first since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club. Yeoh said achieving greater diversity in cinema had been “a great battle”.
She said: “I’ve been in the industry long enough to have seen how many of us have tried to push forward, to say we are equal to any of the Caucasian fabulous lead stars that there are around.
“We should be given equal opportunities to be able to tell our stories and it’s been a great battle. I think the last time I felt such love was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
Despite its critical and commercial success, Crazy Rich Asians has been criticised for featuring a majority east-Asian cast.
Sangeetha Thanapal, an activist and writer, said the film “simply is not the ‘Great Asian Hope’ that it is being portrayed as”.
Yeoh argued the film should transcend race.
She said: “It’s very interesting, I guess someone always has to make some kind of comment. What is Asian? And what’s Asian enough? Crazy Rich Asians is just an appetiser to a glorious feast that’s ahead of us.
“At the end of the day, it should transcend whether its Asian or Caucasian. Let’s just tell beautiful stories.”