‘Minari’ Star Steven Yeun Fears Being Put in a ‘Box’ as an ‘Asian American Actor’

Steven Yeun

“Minari” star Steven Yeun has expressed concerns over being labeled an Asian American actor rather than just simply an actor.

Though the Oscar nominee is honored to have broken down barriers in Hollywood, he told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview that he worries about being labeled primarily as an “Asian American actor,” as opposed to just an “actor.” 

“Sometimes a narrative around [identity] ensnares [you] and places [you] in a weird box that we have to then crawl back out of,” Yeun, 37, said with a sigh. 

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He pointed out how this sentiment relates to “Minari” as well and the way the film deserves to be regarded as more than an “Asian American movie.”  

It represents “one facet of Asian America”— “it might even speak for this one family” — and therefore cannot speak for the entire Asian American community, he added.

“Minari” follows the story of a Korean family that immigrates to Arkansas in the hopes of achieving the American dream. The film, along with Yeun’s performance, was met with critical acclaim.

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In the weeks before his historic Oscar nomination as the first Asian American up for the Best Actor category, he was careful about leaning into that characterization, reported Indiewire

“It’s probably a bummer that that is the case. This is a hard one for me. 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,” he said in an interview with Variety in December. “The truth that I’m trying to understand for myself is who I am, individually.”

Yeun added that he is nonetheless happy to be able to “push narratives” as an Asian American and “serve a larger moment for the community.” 

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“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,” he said.

It was announced in March that Yeun will be appearing in an upcoming Netflix comedy-drama, “Beef,” along with comedian Ali Wong. 

Feature Image via Getty

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