Youn Yuh-jung brought home a historic SAG grant in the best female actor in a supporting role category on Sunday night.
The Minari actress beat out Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father) and Helena Zengel (News of the World) to turn into the first Korean entertainer to ever win the category.
Sunday’s shortened one-hour show was pre-recorded — which means the SAG-AFTRA winners were informed regarding their successes a couple of days before the telecast — and the acceptance speeches were also pre-taped. The changes were a COVID-era decision to protect the guild’s nominees and presenters.
“I don’t know how to describe my feelings,” said Youn, a first-time SAG nominee, in her acceptance speech. “I’m being recognized by Westerners,” she went on to say, while thanking her acting peers and SAG-AFTRA for the honor. “I’m very pleased and happy.”
Youn becomes the first Asian winner (likewise nominated on Sunday were Riz Ahmed and Minari’s Steven Yeun in the best actor category, which went to the late Chadwick Boseman) and first Asian woman winner in any individual SAG motion picture category. Sandra Oh is the lone Asian lady who has won an individual SAG Award on the TV side.
The Korean movie star plays a pivotal role in Lee Isaac Chung’s immigrant family drama as the unconventional grandmother, Soonja, who is visiting her family in Arkansas from Korea. Minari was additionally up for best outfit in a category comprised the most racially inclusive group of films in the guild’s history. (Four of the five titles, including Minari — likewise, Da 5 Bloods, One Night in Miami and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — feature casts led by people of color; Trial of the Chicago 7 brought home the win.)
The Korean-language film had gotten only one Golden Globe nomination, for best foreign-language film, prior to rebounding with SAG Award nominations in three of the five categories (for Youn, best picture and lead actor for Yeun). Heading into Sunday night, Minari tied with Ma Rainey for most overall noms.
The SAG nominations are coveted on the road to the Oscars, with SAG’s top ensemble prize serving in as a same, and oftentimes precursor, for a best picture win. A year ago’s best cast winner, Parasite, also a Korean-language film, went on to later win the top Oscar.
The 27th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards was simulcast on TNT and TBS. A reprise circulated on TNT at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT.