Steven Yeun is finally getting the recognition he deserves thanks to his role as Jacob Yi in Minari. Not only did Yeun receive his first-ever Oscar nomination on March 15, he became the first Asian-American best actor nominee in Oscars history. Along with the nomination of Riz Ahmed in the same category, this year’s ceremony marks the first time two men of East or South Asian descent were recognized in the same year. Miyoshi Umeki and Haing S. Ngor are currently the only Asian-American actors to win Oscars in the supporting actress and actor categories.
In the history of the Oscars, only five men of East or South Asian descent have been nominated for best actor. Out of the five — which includes Yeun, Ahmed, Yul Brynner, Topol, and Sir Ben Kingsley — only Brynner and Kinglsey have taken home the award, Brynner for 1956’s The King and I and Kingsley for 1982’s Gandhi. Despite Brynner’s Buryat lineage, his casting as the King of Siam was considered problematic. It’s been 18 years since Kinglsey was nominated for his role as Colonel Massoud Amir Behrani in House of Sand and Fog, so Yeun’s nomination has been a long time coming.
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