Steven Yeun

If you are a fan of the walking dead series, like me, you know this guy. Steven Yeun is an Asian American (actually Korean American) actor who plays Glenn on AMC’s The Walking Dead. He was not a popular actor but has been starring in this show. The reason why I decided to focus on him this time was not only I am a fan of this show and him, but also he is contributing to negative Asian American stereotypes through both his acting and private life.
He was born in Seoul, South Korea and his family first immigrated to America. He graduated from Kalamazoo college and then became an actor. In the walking dead show, he is playing an Asian American guy who is one of the main characters of the show. Basically in the show, he plays a brave and strong Asian American guy, also who dates with a white girl. As we learned in the book “Asian Americans and the media”, there is a stereotype that Asian/Asian American men are less romantic. However in this show he is totally romantic and breaking the typical stereotype as well.
On the other hand, as an Asian American man, he also resists Asian American stereotypes in his life. This is a part of his interview of the walking dead.
“For my first audition ever, in Chicago, the producers of this little show asked me to do an ’80s monologue,” he recalls, “so I came in with Ferris Bueller’s opening monologue. They said, ‘That was good, but can you do an Asian accent?’ ” That’s when Yeun realized they just wanted to see his version of stereotypical “Sixteen Candles” scene stealer Long Duk Dong. “After that, they wanted to book me and I just refused,” Yeun says.“For my first audition ever, in Chicago, the producers of this little show asked me to do an ’80s monologue,” he recalls, “so I came in with Ferris Bueller’s opening monologue. They said, ‘That was good, but can you do an Asian accent?’ ” That’s when Yeun realized they just wanted to see his version of stereotypical “Sixteen Candles” scene stealer Long Duk Dong. “After that, they wanted to book me and I just refused,” Yeun says.

Overall, Steven Yeun and other new Asian American actors are establishing new Asian American images which break negative stereotypes and create new images. As Asian population of United states has been increasing, there are many second/third generation of Asian American people.  Creating new Asian American images will help those Asian American people who still care about negative Asian images and also help non-Asian people to realize misunderstandings.

Steven-Yeun_actor

 

 

Reference

‘Walking Dead’ Star Steven Yeun on Resisting Asian Stereotypes

http://www.backstage.com/interview/walking-dead-star-steven-yeun-resisting-asian-stereotypes/

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One thought on “Steven Yeun

  1. Hi Reira, Good coverage of Steven Yuen–it’s interesting to read about his first audition and how he resisted playing into APA stereotypes. How might some of the concepts from class help explain why the casting director would respond in this way (e.g., cognitive accessibility theory)?

    Kathy

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