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Yuh-Jung Youn won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Minari on Sunday, making her the first Korean and second female Asian acting winner in the history of the Academy Awards.
“Lee Isaac Chung, without him I wouldn’t be here tonight. He was my captain and my director,” Youn said during a charming acceptance speech that included shoutouts to presenter Brad Pitt, fellow nominee Glenn Close, and her sons, who “make her work.”
The 73-year-old legendary South Korean actress won for her role as Soonja in the critically acclaimed Minari, which is about a Korean family who starts a farm in 1980s Arkansas. The only other time an Asian actress has won an acting Oscar was back in 1957, when Miyoshi Umeki won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Sayonara.
While speaking with reporters backstage, Youn said "it's about time [to share] different stories."
"I think it's very nice to understand each other and we should embrace each other, because without knowing... people aren't categorized like a Black, white, yellow, brown, something like that. That's not a nice way to just divide like that," she said. "Color doesn't matter, gender doesn't matter, gay or straight ... we are equal human beings [and] have the same warm heart."
"It's an opportunity for us to share the story together," she added.
Earlier this month, Youn became the first Asian winner of a best acting SAG Award when she won Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Mirani. And the accolades don't stop there. She also won the Best Supporting Actress award at the BAFTA Awards and she stole the show with a joke during her acceptance speech.
"Every award is meaningful, but this one, especially recognized by British people known as very snobbish people and they approve me as a good actor, so I'm very, very privileged and happy," she said, grinning as the predominantly British crowd laughed.
ET spoke to Minari writer-director Lee Isaac Chung in February, and he talked about his extremely personal film. Chung was born in the U.S. to immigrant parents and raised on a small farm in rural Arkansas.
"A filmmaker I respect, named Lee Chang-dong, once told me, 'You don't start a film or a script until you can name it,'" Chung told ET. "The last memory I came to was of me and my grandma gathering these plants at a creek -- minari -- and I thought, 'That's the name.'"
"It's about a family that is not letting anyone define who they are -- they're going about their lives and defining themselves and really trying to stake out who they are on this land -- and that's what we hope for the film itself, that [despite] these external definitions and stuff placed upon it, in the end, it's just a story about human beings," he also said of his film.