This story about Young Mazino first appeared in the Down to the Wire: Drama and Limited Series issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine. All actor interviews in that issue were conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike began.
Young Mazino — who portrays the crypto-hip, empathetic Paul on Netflix/A24’s “Beef” — celebrated his first Emmy nomination like any normal person would. He quietly rejoiced, then went to see “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning: Part One.”
But the day was obviously a good one even before he got to spend time in a dark theater watching Tom Cruise, particularly since “Beef” became the first fully AAPI-created limited or anthology series to be nominated for the top prize in that category. Nearly all of its principal cast was given a nod, including Steven Yeun (who plays Mazino’s caretaking older brother), Ali Wong and Joseph Lee, all of whom Mazino has several notable scenes with.
“It feels quite unreal,” said Mazino, a Stella Adler-trained Maryland native who booked small gigs on TV dramas (“New Amsterdam,” “Blue Bloods”) before landing his supporting role on “Beef.” “My favorite memories were definitely the little pockets in between takes or setups — these little, tiny conversations and moments we shared. It might have been just moments of silence where we’re recuperating and getting ready, but I was just so thrilled to be part of the process.”
Arriving only months after “Everything Everywhere All at Once” swept numerous Oscars and shattered records, the Emmy success of “Beef” reinforced that this is a strong moment for Asian talent.
“It just shows how, even though the spine of the story is within an Asian American diaspora, it could still be a very universal story that resonates for people from all walks of life,” Mazino said. “There are so many talented people in the AAPI community, and hopefully this empowers them to realize that everyone has just as much of a right to be present in these kinds of awards.”
One of the most surprising aspects of the nomination windfall is that the supporting actors in the series were not as omnipresent on the campaign trail as stars Yeun and Wong, which Mazino finds very satisfying. “It just goes to show how incredible the writing is, where even the supporting characters have so much character and color. And a lot of that credit goes to Lee.” He laughed. “And also, credit to the editing, in making us look good and hiding all our terrible takes.”
The success of “Beef” has also given Mazino’s career a big boost.
“It definitely gives me a leg up when I meet producers and casting directors,” he said. “For many years, I was doing background work and fighting, scrapping it out for one line, two lines, three lines, five lines. To finally have work that has been able to show a bit of my range and abilities, that’s really been helpful in the conversation.”
So, given the series’ purposefully cryptic conclusion and the possibility of another season should the creators want one, would Mazino be down for another round of “Beef”?
“I wholeheartedly trust [Lee] if he wants to continue drawing from this, but I’m also being seen for other new, exciting things,” Mazino said. “Honestly, I just want to work and get back on a set. There was a moment where I thought space and time were my enemies. But at this point, I realize it’s more of a river that I’m just learning to swim in.”
Read more from the Down to the Wire: Drama and Limited Series issue here.