Netflix and A24’s hit thriller Beef features breakout star Young Mazino, who is impressing audiences worldwide with his performance.
Netflix and A24’s latest hit series Beef is a 10-episode thriller that unfolds a road rage incident between two strangers, escalating into a shocking chain of events. The show’s success is undeniable, being hailed as one of the streaming giant’s best offerings in years. While Ali Wong and Steven Yeun delivered excellent performances, a surprise standout caught everyone’s attention: Young Mazino. In his portrayal of Yeun’s younger brother, Paul, Mazino impressed audiences worldwide, leaving many wondering who this fresh-faced actor was and how he landed the role.
Mazino’s story is one of grit, determination, and an unyielding passion for acting. Growing up as a first-generation Korean-American in Maryland, he struggled to find a place where he truly belonged. “On the American side, you don’t fit into the schools you go to,” Mazino told Men’s Health. “On the Korean side, you don’t feel that Korean.”
Mazino’s parents, Korean immigrants, were unable to teach him much about their culture, leading him to create his own identity. Despite their wishes for him to pursue a stable, predictable life, Mazino had a different dream. He found himself drawn to acting, reenacting movie scenes, and writing his own scripts as a child. After college, he moved to New York City and pursued a career in corporate finance, which he found unfulfilling. To make ends meet, he dabbled in cryptocurrency while working hard to pay for the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in 2017 and Yale Drama School in 2018. Although Mazino’s decision to pursue acting was not easily understood by his parents, he knew he had to take the risk to follow his passion.
Mazino had tasted some success in minor roles on shows like New Amsterdam and Blue Bloods, but it wasn’t enough to propel his acting career forward. The pandemic only made things worse, leaving him with few options to make ends meet other than dabbling in cryptocurrency. However, he eventually decided to document his cross-country bike journey while pondering his future in acting.
It was during this time that he landed the role of Paul in Beef, and everything changed for him. From an unknown actor, he became a magazine cover model and featured in fashion spreads. Mazino’s journey is a testament to the value of hard work, determination, and pursuing one’s dreams. “Life is short,” he told Netflix, “you never know what tomorrow might bring.” And he certainly made the most of it.
When Mazino read the description of Paul Cho in Beef, he felt a sense of familiarity. The 31-year-old Korean American actor shares, “Paul is physically big, overshadowed by his older brother, enjoys playing video games, struggles to keep a job, and didn’t attend college.” It was like reading his own biography, but for his discovery of acting. “I thought to myself, wow, this is me, this is eerily similar to my life.”
Mazino didn’t have to put in much effort to portray Paul most of the time. He claims that, compared to his previous performances, he relied more on his own personality. One of his main criticisms from school was his tendency to mumble, making it challenging to understand him, and lacking articulation. He mentioned this to Lee, the director of Beef, but Lee insisted that it worked for the character since Paul isn’t a gregarious, articulate person.
Despite his newfound success, Mazino remains humble and open to the future. “I’m okay not knowing what’s going to happen in the next month or where I’ll be,” he says. However, something tells us that disappearing won’t be as simple as before when he used to say, “I might just sell all my stuff, travel, and get lost.”
Photography and Direction: Alvin Kean Wong at Seen Artists; Styling: Sean Knight; Groomer: Sydney Sollod at The Wall Group LA; Production: Stephan Bielecki for Netflix Tudum