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What This Year’s 93rd Academy Awards Means for the Asian Community

This past year has faced many uncertain circumstances that COVID-19 has brought, such as social distancing and the closures of many theaters. Despite such troubles, filmmakers have continued to create amazingly powerful films, and viewers have been streaming movies online in the comfort of their homes. On Mar. 15, singer Priyanka Chopra Jonas and actor Nick Jonas, this year’s Oscars nominee presenters, officially announced the list of the 93rd Oscars nominations. But this year’s list is quite different from the rest of Oscars history. Now with more diversity than ever in Oscar history, Asian nominees have been casted in different categories such as “Best Supporting Actor,” “Best Picture,” and many more. The 93rd Oscars will be held in Los Angeles, California at the Dolby Theatre and Union Station.

A total of five Asian actors and directors have been nominated for this year’s Oscars: Steven Yeun, Yuh-Jung Youn, Riz Ahmed, Lee Isaac Chung, and Chloé Zhao. In Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari”, a story of the Asian American immigrant experience, Steven Yeun played the role of the father and Yuh-Jung Youn played the grandmother. Riz Ahmed played the role of a heavy-metal drummer in Darius Marder’s “Sound of Metal.” History is continuing to be made as there are a number of “firsts” as Yeun is the first Asian-American nominee in Best Actor, Youn is the first ever South Korean nominee, and Zhao is the first Asian woman nominated in Directing. And to highlight the three iconic films created by Asian directors in their respective categories, they include “Nomadland” by Chloé Zhao (fun fact: she is an NYU alumni and a MFA graduate of Tisch School of the Arts!), “Minari” by Lee Isaac Chung, and “Better Days” by Derek Tsang. However because “Better Days” is an International Film from Hong Kong, it is nominated under its country (though presented directly to the director during the Oscars). Below is a list of the nominees in the categories in which they were nominated:

Riz Ahmed: Actor in a Leading Role

Lee Isaac Chung: Directing, Writing (Original Screenplay)

Hong Kong: International Feature Film

Steven Yeun: Actor in a Leading Role

Yuh-Jung Youn: Actress in a Supporting Role

Chloé Zhao: Directing, Film Editing, Best Picture, Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

This is a significant moment for the Asian community since it is a celebration of Asian representation in the film and entertainment industry. Especially with the massive success of Director Bong Joon-Ho’s numerous Oscar wins last year with his 2019 film, Parasite, the global exposure of Asian actors, directors and stories are able revive, unfold and bring to light for wider audiences the films created by the Asian community. This additionally opens new doors for future generations of aspiring Asian filmmakers and actors, by highlighting the unique stories, voices and abilities offered by Asians. The fact that Asians are becoming more publicized in entertainment, especially through the big screen, means that stereotypes are starting to break down, which is a start in influencing new opportunities.

Tune in this Sunday, Apr. 25, at 5 p.m. (PST) or 8 p.m. (EST) to watch the 93rd Oscars air live on ABC! You definitely won’t want to miss this historical moment happen in real time.

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