The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Peter Ash Lee
By Steven Yeun
September 15, 2021 7:19 AM EDT

It’s not easy to write about someone you admire. Part of my admiration for YJ is that she would refuse and reject any sort of lionizing. She embraces being human. Imperfectly perfect.

The first time I ever met her, I was so drawn in by her presence. It required your full attention. It forced you into the moment. I’ve rarely met people with her level of confidence—it feels like a confidence born from a deep sense of self. I think it’s easy to say that she might have attained this through age, but those who know of Youn Yuh Jung’s career and life would know that her entire existence has been a protest against the boxes that tried to trap her. From navigating and breaking through societal expectations to playing fully realized (and deeply human) characters on the screen, she has forged a path that only she could have. I am a fan not just because of her acting prowess but because she has been a singularly unique presence in everything I’ve ever seen her do.

For the world to know her better, following her Oscar-­winning performance in our film Minari, makes me happy for the world. That we all might receive a genuine person: one who isn’t afraid to tell the truth, and who does so with a care and grace that connects with everyone.

Yeun is an Oscar-nominated actor

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