First off, in case you somehow missed Sunday night's season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead, here's your requisite spoiler warning. Fans were forced to said goodbye to longtime favorite Glenn Rhee on the first bombshell episode of the new season. Glenn has been an integral part of the show since day one, and seeing him go was as harrowing as his death was gruesome. But TV also suffered another kind of loss on Sunday night, as actor Steven Yeun poignantly explained.
In a post-finale interview with GQ, Yeun reflected on what he's most proud of looking back at his time on The Walking Dead. "Honestly, the privilege that I had to play an Asian-American character that didn't have to apologize at all for being Asian, or even acknowledge that he was Asian," Yeun told the magazine, pointing out that a show doesn't need to explicitly talk about race to move the needle on race relations. "Obviously, you're going to address it. It's real. It's a thing. I am Asian, and Glenn is Asian. But I was very honored to be able to play somebody that showed multiple sides, and showed depth, and showed a way to relate to everyone. It was quite an honor, in that regard."
The 32-year-old continued, emphasizing how vital it is that Asian-Americans are well represented on TV. "This didn't exist when I was a kid. I didn't get to see Glenn. I didn't get to see a fully formed Asian-American person on my television, where you could say, 'That dude just belongs here.' Kids, growing up now, can see this show and see a face that they recognize. And go, 'Oh my god. That's my face, too.'"
Judging by the outpouring of love for Glenn on Twitter following his death Sunday night, Yeun is absolutely right. "Glenn was the first Asian-American TV character I saw myself in," one fan wrote. Another tweeted, "#Glenn revolutionized Asian-American male representation in the media. Hoping for a career full of brave strong sexy roles for #StevenYeun." Hell yes! "Glenn Rhee was also a holistic, complex portrayal of an Asian American male character — an endangered species on cable," another viewer mourned. "Devastating loss." We couldn't agree more.