The United States Mint will begin to ship the first U.S. currency coins featuring an Asian American.
The Mint facilities in Philadelphia and Denver will manufacture the coins that feature actress Anna May Wong as part of the American Women Quarters Program.
Born in Los Angeles to Taishanese Chinese-American parents, Wong appeared in more than 60 films from the 1920s through the 1960s. In 1960, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“The fifth coin in our American Women Quarters Program honors Anna May Wong, a courageous advocate who championed for increased representation and more multi-dimensional roles for Asian American actors,” said Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson. “This quarter is designed to reflect the breadth and depth of accomplishments by Anna May Wong, who overcame challenges and obstacles she faced during her lifetime.”
The coin’s head depicts George Washington while the reverse design features a close-up image of Wong with her head resting on her hand, surrounded by the bright lights of a marquee sign.
The coin’s tail was designed by Emily Damstra, an Artistic Infusion Program Designer for the U.S. Mint, and sculpted by U.S. Mint medallic artist John McGraw.
“Many prominent actors from the 1920s and 1930s saw their name framed by lightbulbs on movie theater marquees, so I thought it made sense to feature Anna May Wong in this way,” said Damstra. “Along with the hard work, determination, and skill Anna May Wong brought to the profession of acting, I think it was her face and expressive gestures that really captivated movie audiences, so I included these elements next to her name.”
Other women included in the American Women Quarters Program include Nina Otero-Warren, Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, and Maya Angelou.