Anna May Wong to be featured on US quarter, becoming first Asian American on US currency

The first U.S. quarter featuring an Asian American will go into circulation on Oct. 24, the U.S. Mint announced. The quarter will depict Anna May Wong, considered the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood.

The obverse or “heads” side of the coin will feature a portrait of George Washington designed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser in 1932. The reverse or “tails” side will be a close-up image of Wong resting her head on her hand, framed by the lights of a marquee sign, the U.S. Mint said. It was designed by Emily Damstra and sculpted by John P. McGraw, according to the U.S. Mint .

It will be produced at Mint facilities in Denver and Philadelphia. Wong, born 1905 in Los Angeles, California, was a trailblazing actor in the 20th-century during the rise of the film industry and a champion for Asian American representation in film, according to the U.S. Mint. She appeared in dozens of movies. Her first leading role was in “The Toll of the Sea” in 1922. She appeared in one of the first technicolor movies and became the first Asian American lead actor to star in a T.V. show with her role in “The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong,” according to the U.S. Mint.

Wong’s coin is the fifth and final in 2022 for a new series of quarters honoring the accomplishments of historical American women. New quarters will be unveiled as part of the series, which the U.S. Mint calls the American Women Quarters program, every year until 2025. This year was the program’s first, debuting coins honoring Maya Angelou, Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren and Wong.