Yoon in Montreal, Quebec in 2017
|Born||May 4, 1962|
Champaign, Illinois, U.S.
|Occupation||Actress, writer, playwright, poet|
Jean Yoon (born May 4, 1962) is a Canadian actress, writer, playwright and poet. Yoon is best known for her portrayal of family matriarch Umma in the award-winning CBC television series Kim's Convenience, for which she won an ACTRA Award and received two Canadian Screen Award nominations. She also portrayed the same role in the 2011 play of the same name.
1980s–1990s: Early career in theatre
Yoon started her career in theatre as an actress in the early 1980s, but soon quit in frustration after she struggled to attract work. A decade later, in 1995, she returned to acting and started her own group called Loud Mouth Asian Babes, through which she has written and produced plays that focus on the Korean diaspora, mostly in Canada.
2000s: Transition into television and film
Yoon's acting career began to flourish in the early 2000s, with small roles in several television series, including La Femme Nikita (1996–2001), Witchblade (TNT, 2000–2002) and Street Time (Showtime, 2001–2003). In 2006, Yoon achieved wider recognition after playing flight attendant Betty Ong in the controversial mini-series The Path to 9/11. Also in 2006, Yoon had a recurring role as June Kim in the legal drama series This Is Wonderland.
In 2007, Yoon received a Gemini Award nomination for her work in the CBC mini-series Dragon Boys. In 2009, she portrayed Dr. Montague in the hit romantic comedy film The Time Traveller's Wife, based on the novel of the same name.
2010s–present: Further success in television
Throughout the 2010s, Yoon has played a wide array of characters in several television programs, most notably Imena Khumalo in the medical drama series Remedy (2014–2015), Connie in the animated series Peg+Cat (2013–2016), Captain Theresa Yao in the science fiction series The Expanse (2015), and Janis Beckwith in the hit BBC-Space series Orphan Black.
Since 2016, Yoon has portrayed Kim Yong-mi ("Umma"), the matriarch of the Kim family, in the CBC sitcom Kim's Convenience. She also portrayed the same role in the 2011 play, which she originated and performed over 240 times in six cities. For her role in the television series, she has received considerable attention and has publicly discussed the importance of diversity in mainstream media, specifically for Asian Canadians and immigrants. In an interview with the CBC, Yoon said:
The generational conflict between first generation and second generation immigrants, it's rich territory, and if you've lived through it, I mean, it's laugh and cry, laugh and cry, laugh and cry. But we haven't seen those stories on television on a national level. We are starting to see those stories coming out in novels and in theatre ... We are starting to see an awareness that this is territory that hasn't been explored. There's comedy there, there's talent there, and there's a sudden pop of interest. But also it's a question of critical mass.
For her role on Kim's Convenience, Yoon won an ACTRA Award and received a Canadian Screen Award nomination in 2017. Yoon reprised her role for a second season of the series, which premiered in September 26, 2017.
Yoon is also a writer and playwright. She has written severals plays, poems, and essays, including The Yoko Ono Project, a multi-media performance art comedy about Ono, her art, and her impact, which earned a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination and a Jessie Richardson Award.
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