Steven Yeun Becomes the First Asian American, Riz Ahmed the First Muslim Nominated for Best Actor

For the first time in history, the list of this year’s Oscar Nominees for Best Actor includes two men of Asian descent, Steven Yeun and Riz Ahmed, marking two historic firsts for the actors and the film industry.

  • Steven Yeun became the first Asian American actor to be nominated for his performance as Jacob Yi in “Minari.”
  • Yeun stated before that he was brought to tears by the script, saying, “Seeing the words of how a life similar to mine could be put on a page was very liberating.”


  • Riz Ahmed became the the first Muslim to be nominated for his performance in “Sound of Metal.” 
  • Ahmed is the second British Asian to be nominated following Ben Kingsley’s nomination for “House of Sand and Fog” nearly 20 years ago. 


This year’s best actor category also includes Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,”  Anthony Hopkins for “The Father,” and Gary Oldman in “Mank.”

Yeun’s “Minari” co-star, Yuh-Jung Youn, is also the first South Korean actress to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Both are the only actors of Korean descent to be nominated for any acting category while Ahmed is the only nominee of Pakistani descent. 

Feature Image via TIFF Trailers (left), A24 (right)

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