Steven Yeun and Bobby Lee.
It’s rough out there for an Asian-American actor, even one who plays a beloved character on a hit TV show. The comic Bobby Lee, best known for his stint on madTV, talked about running into Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn on The Walking Dead, when they were both auditioning for a bit part. “I was auditioning for a movie, a stoner movie. It was five lines. Of course I’m going to read for that movie, because I’ve really got nothing else going on,” Lee said on TigerBelly, the podcast he does with his girlfriend Khalyla Kuhn. “I’m sitting there with these five lines. They’re okay lines, and then a kid walks in, who’s auditioning for the same part, and it’s Steven Yeun,” said Lee. “Now, I looked at him, and I go, After your audition, I’m going to yell at you outside. So I took Steven Yeun out there. I didn’t yell at him, but I went, How do you not get an offer?” Lee recalls, “He’s like, Dude I gotta read.”
“That’s crazy,” said Margaret Cho, the guest on the podcast, who later talked about her argument with Tilda Swinton about the Doctor Strange controversy. “If that was a white dude — let’s be real,” said Lee. “He would not have to read for five lines. Oh, he wants to do this movie — five lines? Offer it to him. But he had to sign up. Wait in line. And I find it to be fucking crazy.” Lee compares Yeun to someone like Aaron Paul, who broke out with Breaking Bad. “I guarantee you right now that Aaron Paul would not audition for five lines,” said Lee. “Of course not,” Cho said. “To not think of this as a racist business — of course it is. It is. The truth is that we have to read. We have to go in for things and it’s shocking, especially for somebody like him.”