Meet The Cast of Minari: Meet the Asian Stars of this Oscars 2021 Best Picture Nominee
Minari, the film which broke ground on its portrayal of a Korean immigrant family in America, has just bagged six Oscar nominations. Among them is Steven Yeun, who makes history as the first Asian American actor to be nominated in the Best Actor category. The film is also being considered for Best Picture, Best Actress (Youn Yuh-jung), Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Original Score. Get to know some of the faces and histories of the actors themselves.
1/5 Steven Yeun as Jacob Yi
Steven Yeun, the first Asian American actor to be nominated for Best Actor in the Oscar's 93-year history, portrays Jacob Yi, the patriarch of the family. In an interview with Variety, Yeun shares the main parallel between his character, Jacob, and his own father: both were drawn to a promise of a better life. Born in Seoul, and having moved to the United States himself, Yeun understands the complex duality of living within multiple cultures, adding depth and experience to his portrayal of Jacob in Minari.
As for his repertoire, Yeun can boast of many experiences. Having first gained his claim to fame in The Walking Dead, Yeun had reportedly strayed away from commercial projects that otherwise would have typecast him as an Asian actor. Instead, he's veered towards more independent films, where fans could see him boldly portray the gamut of human (and fantastic) experience in Mayhem, Okja, Sorry to Bother You, and Burning.
2/5 Yeri Han as Monica Yi
Wife to Jacob Yi, Monica Yi is portrayed by actress Yeri Han. Known for her range in performance, Han is played a variety of roles in her native South Korea. Minari is her first movie that has debuted in Hollywood. In a previous interview, Han had revealed that she instantly connected to her role as Monica, describing her as "typically Korean". In the film, Han has also been praised for her subtle yet provocative gestures—the emotions in her eyes, and the telling way in which she reacts to Jacob as their relationship takes its toll on her family.
(Related: 12 Asian Actresses Who Made in Big in Hollywood—and Why it's Significant Today)
3/5 Youn Yuh-Jung as Soonja
A veteran actress from South Korea, Youn Yuh-Jung portrays Soonja, Jacob's mother in the film Minari. At 73, she's also the fourth Asian actress to receive an Oscar nomination for acting. Her career, which spans over half a century, has seen her in a number of TV shows and films. She's played a seductress in Fire Woman, a wealthy mistress in The Taste of Money, and now the eccentric grandmother in Minari. Now, she reveals, she's working on the Apple TV adaptation of New York Times bestselling book, Pachinko.
4/5 Alan Kim as David Yi
Minari is supposed to be a semi-autobiographical film based on director Lee Isaac Chung's life. In it, David Yi is set to represent Lee Isaac Chung. In the movie, David Yi has a serious heart condition which causes Monica trouble as they move to the farm. His representative character is played by Alan Kim, and adorable 8-year-old child actor who's already been awarded a Critic's Choice Award.
5/5 Noel Kate Cho as Anne Yi
Noel Kate Cho plays Anne Yi, the Yi family's eldest daughter. She's also an important figure in David's life, especially as their parents continue to fight.