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Esther Eng: the Early LGBTQ+ Icon, Hollywood’s First Chinese Female Filmmaker

She is remembered as America’s first Chinese female film writer, director and producer, a successful entrepreneur and open lesbian – why haven’t we heard about her until now?

Esther Eng was a trailblazer in Hollywood, directing 10 Chinese-language films between 1937 and 1961, but only two have survived to this day.

A Chinese-American woman who wrote, directed and produced more than 10 films. A proud, open lesbian, accepted by her friends and family. Going by that description alone, you might think that we’re talking about some kind of trailblazer yet to materialise in the public consciousness. But what if we told you this person had already lived a full life and died before colour TV became mainstream?