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Steven Yeun was seen as the "Great Asian Hope" because of The Walking Dead

  • "The success of The Walking Dead catapulted Yeun into an odd place," Jay Caspian Kang writes in a New York Times Magazine profile of Yeun focusing on Asian-American identity. "Now he was one of the most recognizable Asian-American actors in the country, perhaps even the world, but the speed of his success and his relatively short time in Hollywood meant that he skipped over the crises of identity, authenticity and frustration that are the birthright of the Asian-American actor. He also took on a strange new role as an inspirational sex symbol for young Asian men, not for his own exploits but for Glenn’s ongoing relationship with a white woman named Maggie, played by Lauren Cohan. An Asian man dating a white woman on the most popular show on TV was seen as not only a marker of progress but also a permission slip for white women to maybe start dating more of us. Yeun understood the excitement but wasn’t sure what to make of the fuss. Should he be proud? Or did he even want that sort of attention at all? 'I went through the same journey that I’m sure most Asian-American men go through,' Yeun said, referring to the typical rejections and emasculations that befall so many of us. 'It’s just so paper-thin — you’re asking Asian men to be validated by whiteness, and you’re basically saying that I can only feel like a man if I’m with a white woman, which is just a terrible thing to think.' Fair or not, Glenn Rhee, and by extension Yeun, was touted as the Great Asian Hope, the Jeremy Lin of dating white women on TV. 'I still get emails from Asian dudes to this day,' Yeun said. 'And they’ll say something like, "Thank you so much, you’re the first one of us to ever do this."'"

    TOPICS: Steven Yeun, AMC, The Walking Dead, Asian Americans and TV