November 30, 2023


We Bring Good Things to Life

How After Yang’s Justin H. Min Turned a Trash Can Ad Into a Breakout Career

How After Yang’s Justin H. Min Turned a Trash Can Ad Into a Breakout Career

Those conversations, Min says, were productive and received well—just as they were a year later when, at the height of the George Floyd protests, Min sent an email to Umbrella‘s entire production. “We have this diverse cast, which is really, really great, but I just felt like we could work toward more diversity behind the camera,” he recalls writing. When the show reconvened last February to shoot its third season, Min says the crew was the most diverse he had ever worked with.

Vintage t-shirt, from Raggedy Threads. Vintage hoodie Champion from Front General Store. Pants, $560, by Kidill. Belt, $695, by Artemas Quibble. Sunglasses, $630, by Jacques Marie Mage. Watch, $6,550, by TAG Heuer.

The gesture was subtle, but noticed by colleagues like his costar Elliot Page. “Obviously, I wish we were at a point where he didn’t have to stand up, where he did not have to be in that position,” Page told me via email. “[But] it’s incredibly admirable, because speaking up isn’t easy. It’s a reflection of his sincerity, courage, and genuine care.”

If Min’s goal is to explore Asian American–ness onscreen, then After Yang is a pitch-perfect launchpad for the next phase of his career. Written and directed by the South Korean–born indie auteur Kogonada, it’s a sparse near-future tale in which Min plays Yang, an android purchased by a family to help raise and connect their adopted daughter with her Chinese heritage. The film explores the same questions of identity that Min is fascinated by: In one scene, a character literally asks, “What makes someone Asian?”

The film and performance are beautiful, though I did have one serious quibble, which is that the movie pronounces Yang’s name—my name—all wrong. It’s correctly pronounced “yahng,” almost like the opposite of old, while in the film (and seemingly everywhere else in the Western hemisphere) it rhymes with “gang.” But Min called the mispronunciation a carefully considered decision.

Jacket, $8,200, pants, $1,990, by Prada. Shirt, $125, Heaven by Marc Jacobs. Belt, $1,895, by Artemas Quibble. Necklace $395, by Beepy Bella.