Speed Reads

2022 Emmys

Lee Jung-jae becomes 1st Asian winner of lead drama actor Emmy

Lee Jung-jae has made history at the 2022 Emmys.

The Squid Game star has won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, becoming the first South Korean person to ever win the award. In fact, he's also the first Asian actor to win this lead drama actor Emmy and the first person to win the award for a series that's not in English. 

The competition was stiff this year, as the other nominees included Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong for Succession and Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul. Going into the show, many pundits predicted a win for Cox or Odenkirk.

But clearly, Squid Game resonated with Emmy voters as much as it did Netflix subscribers. The South Korean drama revolves around a group of contestants who compete in a series of deadly games, with Lee portraying the lead. It earned 14 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series, and it's the first foreign-language show to ever be nominated in that category. When it debuted in 2021, Squid Game rather unexpectedly became a massive global phenomenon, scoring Netflix's biggest debut ever. 

Prior to the Emmys, Lee also won Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which was considered an even bigger upset than his Emmy win, and he also won a Critics' Choice Television Award. 

A second season of Squid Game is currently in the works, and Lee is set to follow the series up with a major role in the Star Wars show The Acolyte — so get ready to hear his name a whole lot more in the years to come.