Steven Yeun has made history as the first Asian American actor to be nominated for the Best Actor Oscar at the 2021 Academy Awards. Yeun, who played fan-favorite zombie apocalypse survivor Glenn Rhee in the first six seasons of The Walking Dead, is nominated for his role as Korean American father Jacob Yi in filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung's Minari. The 37-year-old actor's Oscar nomination comes after Yeun was nominated for Best Actor at the Critics Choice Movie Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Minari received five other Academy Award nominations, including Best Supporting Actress (Youn Yuh-jung), Best Original Score (Emile Mosseri), Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (Chung), and Best Picture (producer Christina Oh).
After bringing significant Asian American representation to the zombie drama now airing its extended tenth season on AMC — Yeun's Glenn was an Asian American character "that wasn't explicitly defined by his race, or talked about in that way," Yeun told CBS Sunday Morning — Yeun was "blown away" by Chung's script about a Korean American family who moves to an Arkansas farm in pursuit of the American dream.
"I was in tears. Seeing the words of how a life similar to mine could be put on a page was very liberating," said Yeun, a South Korea-born actor who grew up in Michigan. "This thing continues to leave me in many, many tears. I've been crying throughout this whole process."
Yeun's role as Jacob is an "interesting man," Chung told CBS Sunday Morning. "He decided once he got to America that he doesn't want to be around other Korean Americans. And he wants to strike out on his own into the wild west in a way, to Arkansas. For me, this film is about a family, first and foremost, that moves to a brand-new place in a whole new situation that they've never been in, and they only have each other."
Below you'll find reactions from Yeun's former co-stars and executive producer Angela Kang, a veteran Walking Dead writer-producer who became the show's first Asian American showrunner when she stepped into that role with Season 9.
Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead Creator and Executive Producerprevnext
Emily Kinney, Beth Greene Actor
!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙌💫❤️ https://t.co/n11OPuwsEy— Emily Kinney (@emmykinney) March 15, 2021
Scott Gimple, Walking Dead Universe Chief Content Officer and Former Showrunner
Damn wonderful thing to wake up to: https://t.co/CSRh6s6Jto— Scott M. Gimple (@ScottMGimple) March 15, 2021
Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Negan Actor
Congrats to Steven! You'd deserve it so much too. Happy Monday! 🌞💖 pic.twitter.com/rYfynHLIfc— A̷darna 🐙 (@_Adarna_) March 15, 2021
Tyler James Williams, Noah Actorprevnext
Gale Anne Hurd, Executive Producerprevnext
Khary Payton, King Ezekiel Actorprevnext
The Walking Dead
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