Women must be true to themselves, hold their own against male colleagues and be uncompromising in their career decisions in order to fight for equality, global movie star Michelle Yeoh told an audience at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2016.

“At the present moment I feel that there are not enough roles that depict strong women,” said the Malaysian celebrity, famous for doing her own stunts as a martial arts expert opposite male stars such as Jackie Chan, for playing a Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies, and Burmese leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi in The Lady. “I feel if I have to be the one that does it then, why not?”

In a wide ranging interview with Bloomberg anchor Haslinda Amin, Yeoh said she insisted on doing her own stunts to show the men that she could do it. Despite an injury that prevented her from becoming a ballerina, crippling stage fright and claustrophobia, she fell into acting “unplanned” and “hated it with such passion”.

Nevertheless, she was offered an opportunity to act opposite Chan in a watch commercial and found her acting groove, training hard in a martial arts gym. She says she was forced to physically belt her male counterparts in her first movies.

“They won’t take you seriously because you are a girl,” she said. “ These guys had to understand that you are just as tough as them and you have to take them on. I hit them hard a few times and then it became more fun.”