"It’s a weird double edge"
Steven Yeun has said it’s “sad” that he is not mistaken for other Asian actors in America.
Yeun is currently promoting Korean drama film Burning, which is his first major role since The Walking Dead. When asked how he felt that better opportunities were coming his way from Korean films rather than American ones, Yeun said it was “tough.”
“I’ll come back from Burning, and I’ll be like, “Will I ever get this experience again? Will I ever feel this free in a character?” Yeun said. “Will I ever feel like they’re looking to get my best performance? Down to the lighting, the makeup, the boundarylessness that they project on me?”
“I feel like there’s a mold here in America, that even in my daily walking around I feel subjected to. Someone’s projecting, like, “This is how you’re supposed to fit in this world.” It’s this generic Asian man mold that pervades.”
Yeun went on to say that Asian American representation is “key and paramount.”
It’s like all social mandates or ideas—they have to stem from an actual willingness and desire to do it,” he said. “I want to be attracted to a project as a human being. Not someone telling me, “You have to do it.” And my face is my face. That will check the box of representation.”
“Now, if we want to get supercerebral and break it down, “Should I do this or not?” you get into arguments like, “Does this character put me in a space where I’m just doing a thing that the American white gaze is asking me to do?” Those are the things that I’m trying actively to avoid.”
When asked if he gets mistaken for Asian actors, Yeun revealed he didn’t, which he said was “sad.”
“It’s a weird double edge,” Yeun explained. “It’s like, cool, I’m not compared to anybody, but is it because there’s no other person that you’re fixating in your head about? John [Cho] is here. [Literally—Cho happened to be at the café where this interview took place.] Maybe I’ve been mistaken for him one time.”
In related news, Yeun recently revealed that his dad thought he was doing porn after Googling his name.