Former “The Walking Dead” cast member and lead of the upcoming Korean thriller movie “Burning,” Steven Yeun, recently talked about the issue of Asian masculinity in Hollywood and shared his thoughts about where it currently stands – and things got pretty real.
While speaking to GQ, the 34-year-old actor went on to talk about how Asians should “trust the process” no matter how imperfect the delivery system would seem. Yeun likened the recent success of “Crazy Rich Asians” to the breakout performances of NBA player Jeremy Lin in 2012, highlighting, in particular, his last-second game-winning three-pointer against the Toronto Raptors.
“To have the fu***ng balls to roll up and just ice the three in his face, and it’s your fourth or fifth starting game is bonkers to me,” he said. “I kind of equate [Crazy Rich Asians] to that. Asian people just want to be broken off something, and they’ve been clambering for it.”
Yeun touched on the matter of how the Asian and Asian-American communities are now ready to take the spotlight, but admitted it could still take a while.
“We got talent now. We got people everywhere. Is it still going to take some time? Yeah,” he added. “On the Asian-American film side, I think we’re still in self-acceptance. I think we’re still getting comfortable with ourselves and that’s okay.”
The Korean-American actor also dropped truth bombs in the interview.
“I know there was a lot of controversy over it, but when an Asian man got with a white woman onscreen it was awesome. And then in the rearview you realize the only reason why that was awesome was because you were basing what’s cool or masculine on the acceptance of what other people told you it is,” Yeun said. “That’s the place I think we’re evolving from, just being comfortable with ourselves.”
As for the topic of being “sexy,” Yeun was vocal about re-defining the term.
“Who says an Asian man is not sexy? They might not be six foot, blond, blue eyed. But we got our s**t. We got our own style. Sexy is just a way of being, and a comfort in ourselves.”
“So we’re getting to that place. I hope we get to that place and then we can make things more nuanced, scattered, eclectic, different, all across the board.”
Yeun is one of the lone figures in an industry famous for opposing type-casting and the emasculation of Asian males. As noted by HuffPost, Asian men have traditionally been reserved as sideshows in Hollywood, playing stereotypes and social pariahs, and almost never the leading man.