Steven Yeun Becomes First Asian American To Be Nominated For Lead Actor

by : Emily Brown on : 15 Mar 2021 15:25
Steven Yeun Becomes First Asian American To Be Nominated For Lead ActorPA Images/Disney–ABC Domestic Television

The Walking Dead actor Steven Yeun has made history by becoming the first Asian American to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor. 

Yeun earned the nomination for his role in Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, which earned a nomination itself for Best Picture as the nominees were announced today, March 15.


The recognition comes after Yeun secured nominations from the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Critics’ Choice Awards for the same role, but his achievement at the Oscars is particularly noteworthy as it marks the first time an Asian American has featured in the Best Actor category.

Steven YeunPA Images

Yeun, who was born in South Korea and raised in the United States, discussed the prospect of being nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars in an interview with Variety in December, when he admitted that the notion was ‘a hard one’ for him.

He explained:


As great as it would be to set a precedent or be part of a moment that breaks through a ceiling, I personally don’t want to be ensnared by that moment, either. The truth that I’m trying to understand for myself is who I am, individually.

I’m happy to serve a larger moment for the community. And I’m happy to push narratives and show who we are because I am that, too. I am an Asian American and the pride I have for that is immense.

But also, for me, it’s really about carrying my space and myself through this life and making sure that I tell it true from my perspective. But it would be awesome, and I hope that we can have many more of those and that it won’t be an issue moving forward.

Steven YeunPA Images
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In the Best Actor category, Yeun is up against Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal, Anthony Hopkins for The Father, and Gary Oldman in Mank.

Ahmed, another first-time nominee, is a Brit of Pakistani descent, meaning this year’s nominations also marks the first time two men of Asian heritage are up for best actor.


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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Film and TV, Academy Awards, Diversity, Now, Oscars


  1. Variety

    Steven Yeun on the Honesty of ‘Minari’ and His Eclectic Career: ‘I Never Want to Lose That Sense of Wonder’