Steven Yeun, best known for his portrayal of Glenn Rhee on AMC’s The Walking Dead series, has made Oscar history by becoming the first Asian-American to score a nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in Minari.
The Los Angeles Times explained that while several other men of Asian descent have previously been nominated for the award, Yeun is the first Asian-American to make the nomination list. This year’s leading actor nominees include Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal and Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the first Black performer to ever be nominated posthumously for an Oscar.
Minari earned several other nods at the 93rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress for Yuh-Jung Youn, and Best Original Score. The film is based on director Lee Isaac Chung’s upbringing in rural Arkansas and growing up in a Korean-American family.
In February, the film won a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, even though it was an entirely U.S.-based production. The film’s nomination caused a stir over the Golden Globes’ rules — because Korean was spoken throughout more than 50 percent of the film, it was not eligible for Best Picture.
To mark the film’s release in South Korea last week, local art and fashion community Softoffice created unofficial merchandise. The film has garnered praise from critics for its earnest portrayal of an immigrant family and struck a chord with many Americans as hate crimes against the Asian community have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.