The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun has spoken about the micro-aggressions he faced as an Asian-American actor at the start of his career.
The star, who is set to appear in the hotly-tipped Minari later this year, recalled an uncomfortable experience at his first-ever audition.
During an appearance on Variety’s Award Circuit podcast, Yeun shared a story from his first-ever audition, which was for a show called Awesome ‘80s Prom. “I auditioned with Ferris Bueller’s opening monologue and they were like, ‘That’s good – can you do that all again in an Asian accent?’” he explained.
“At the time, I’ll be honest with you, I knew I didn’t want to do that so I kind of rejected it. But the system had no clue that’s not what I wanted. We were just in a different time. I remember my only response to do that was I did a shitty accent and phoned it in, and then I left.”
He continued to say that the production still wanted him for the role “because that’s how far and few between Asian actors were”. However, Yeun eventually turned down the job.
The actor will play Jacob in Minari, the father of a Korean-American family who move from California to rural Arkansas to start a farm in the 1980s. Celebrated Korean actor Youn Yuh-jung will also appear in the film, which was directed by Lee Isaac Chung, as grandmother Soon-ja.
The film is tipped to be nominated for the 2021 Oscars. If Yeun is nominated for Best Actor at the ceremony, he will be the first Asian-American to have received the nod in 93 years.
Meanwhile, Yeun recently spoke of his exit from The Walking Dead, in which he played Glenn Rhee. He was killed off in a dramatic season seven opening episode by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), which sparked controversy among fans.