Steven Yeun Is the First Asian American Ever Nominated for a Best Actor Oscar

Steven Yeun has just made history with his nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards, becoming the first Asian American actor in history to be up for the honor. Leading up to the official announcement, there had been speculation that Yeun was in the Oscar conversation based on his acclaimed performance in Minari. On Monday, the complete nomination list was revealed for this year’s annual Academy Awards was revealed, officially confirming Yeun’s nomination.

Riz Ahmed, the British Pakistan star of Sound of Metal, is also nominated in the same category as Yeun. This marks the first time two men of East or South Asian descent were nominated at the Oscars in the same year. They join a small handful of actors of Asian descent to receive Oscar nominations, including Yul Brynner (The King and I in 1956), Topol (Fiddler on the Roof in 1971), and Sir Ben Kingsley (Gandhi in 1982 and House of Sand and Fog in 2003).

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The other nominations for Best Actor at The Academy Awards this year are Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank). Meanwhile, Minari is also up for Best Picture, Best Director for Lee Isaac Chung, Best Supporting Actress for Yuh-jong Youn, Best Original Screenplay for Chung, and Best Original Score for Emile Mosseri.

Written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, Minari follows a family of South Korean immigrants who move to rural America in the 1980s in pursuit of the American Dream. When it was released, it was met with universal praise from critics, currently sitting at a near-perfect 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The acting was also particularly praised, and while people are upset to see certain other names snubbed by the Oscars this year, everyone seems to agree that Yeun’s nomination is well-deserved.

It’s been an interesting journey for Steven Yeun as an actor. Early into his career, he found his breakout role as zombie apocalypse survivor Glenn Rhee on the AMC horror series The Walking Dead. He served as one of the most popular characters on the series before he was controversially killed off after starring for six seasons. When his character left, so did millions of Walking Dead fans with many saying that Yeun’s exit officially marked the beginning of the end. Ratings have been falling rapidly ever since, and the show is now set to end after its upcoming eleventh and final season.

Yeun has also starred in the acclaimed Joe Lynch horror Mayhem among other movies since his Walking Dead exit, such as Okja, Burning, and Sorry to Bother You. He has also done a lot of voiceover work, which includes a starring role in the animated Amazon series Invincible from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. Yeun is also attached to the upcoming drama The Humans alongside Jayne Houdyshell, Beanie Feldstein, Amy Schumer, and Richard Jenkins.

Congratulations to Yeun on his first Best Actor nomination. The Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, April 25 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC.

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