Even after winning more than 30 awards for her supporting role in “Minari,” 73-year-old South Korean actor Youn Yuh-jung looked shocked when she brought in another trophy -- this time at the 27th Screen Actors Guild Awards.
At the 2021 SAG Awards on Monday, Youn was honored for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role for playing Soon-ja, a Korean grandmother in the US-made film.
“I don’t know how to describe my feelings, being recognized by Westerners. … It is very, very honorable … especially that my fellow actors choose me as (best) supporting actress,” Youn said nervously in her acceptance speech Monday. “I’m very pleased and happy.”
As she apologized for her lack of fluent English following her brief speech, other nominees reassured her that her English was perfect.
In her speech, Youn also expressed her respect for her fellow nominees in the same category, mentioning each one by name.
The four actors competing with Youn for the award were Maria Bakalova from “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” Glenn Close from “Hillbilly Elegy,” Olivia Colman from “The Father” and Helena Zengel from “News of the World.”
Directed and written by Korean American Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari” depicts the story of a first-generation Korean immigrant family of four -- dad Jacob (Steven Yeun), mom Monica (Han Ye-ri), son David (Alan S. Kim) and daughter Anne (Noel Kate Cho).
In the movie, the family gets a fresh start in rural Arkansas and pursues the American dream. One day, grandma Soon-ja comes to America to take care of the two kids while Jacob and Monica are out working.
In the process of creating the character of Soon-ja, Youn said she had tried hard not to make her a stereotypical Korean grandmother.
“I didn’t want to show a typical mother or grandmother character. I wanted my character to be less serious and conventional. Issac encouraged me a lot in doing this,” Youn said during a press conference held as part of the Busan International Film Festival in October last year.
Chung’s film was also nominated in two other categories but didn’t win. The film was considered for outstanding performance by a cast, and Steven Yeun, who played Jacob, was nominated for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role.
Launched in 1995, the SAG Awards are considered a key indicator for the Oscars glory, since actors represent the largest proportion of the roughly 10,000 voters in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning sensation “Parasite” also won the top prize at the SAG Awards last year.
Youn is nominated for best supporting actress at the upcoming Academy Awards slated for April 25.
Meanwhile, the top prize at the SAG Awards, outstanding performance by a cast, went to “The Trial of the Chicago 7” directed by Aaron Benjamin Sorkin. The prize for best female actor in a leading role went to Viola Davis from “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and best male actor in a leading role went to the late Chadwick Boseman from “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”
By Song Seung-hyun (email@example.com