Yuh-Jung Youn made history at the Oscars Sunday night as the first Korean actress ever to win in an acting category. And while her onstage appearance during the show was full of her typically warm yet slyly barbed demeanor, backstage Youn dug a little bit deeper into the behind-the-scenes of her turn in “Minari” as a flinty grandmother who joins her immigrant family in Arkansas.
“I don’t believe in competition in my field, because we are comparing different roles,” Youn said. “I’m just lucky tonight. Luckier than the other nominees.”
Youn was also asked backstage about collaborating with “Minari” Plan B executive producer Brad Pitt, whom she met for the first time on Sunday night during the Oscars show, and what kind of film she’d want to next team with him on. “It will never happen with my English. I don’t dream [an] impossible dream. I don’t think so,” she said. “No answer.”
When asked how she feels about the rise of Asian stories appreciated by the Oscars thanks to her win for “Minari” and last year’s big sweep for Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” Youn said, “It’s about time. It’s very nice to understand each other, and we should embrace each other because without knowing or categorizing, we people are categorized like Black, white, yellow, brown, something like that, that’s not nice way to just divide like that. If we can color together, make it more prettier, even rainbow has seven colors. Color doesn’t matter. Gender doesn’t matter … I don’t like to divide like this. Man, woman, Black and white, yellow, brown, gender, gay, straight, or something like that. I don’t want that kind of thing. We are equal human beings. We have the same warm heart.”
As for her first meeting with Pitt during the Oscars on Sunday night, Youn said, “I saw him on the stage and then he called my name, I can tell he practiced a lot. He didn’t mispronounce my name.”
Youn’s Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actress emerged from one of six Oscar nominations director/writer Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari” received at the 93rd Academy Awards. The film also grabbed nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Steven Yeun, Best Original Score, and Best Original Screenplay. Youn’s victory gives distributor A24 yet another acting Academy Award after the likes of Brie Larson for “Room” and Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight.”