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Steven Yeun: From Kalamazoo College to The Walking Dead

Steven Yeun will have his hands full Sunday night. The Kalamazoo College grad plays zombie slayer/heartthrob and all around good guy Glenn Rhee on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead.

You might be surprised to know Steven never dreamed of being an actor.

Steven was born in South Korea and raised in Troy, Michigan. His parents hoped he’d become a doctor. He enrolled at K College to study psychology with a concentration in neuroscience.

During his freshman year, he attended a performance of the Kalamazoo College student improv troop Monkapult.

“It blew my face off. I was like, ‘Holy smokes, I want to do this so bad,” Steven remembers.

He tried out for the troop, but was rejected. “I was terrible,” Steven says. He took an improv class. He practiced his craft. He set his sights on studying theatre in instead of med school. His sophomore year, it finally paid off. He became a member of Monkapult.

Following graduation, Steven moved to Chicago to continue performing. He earned a spot on the famed Second City stage. He did some voice over work for the Crysis video game series. He acted in a few independent films.

Steven moved to Los Angeles, in 2009 and his career took off. He appeared on Big Bang Theory and Law & Order before landing his breakout role on AMC’s The Walking Dead.

“I’ve just been incredibly fortunate in every risk I took,” says Steven.

Steven continues to do acting and voice work. You’ve heard him on The Legend of Korra, American Dad and the upcoming film Chew alongside Felicia Day.

Steven still finds inspiration from his K College experience. His latest book suggestion? A collection of short stories by Andy Mozina entitled “The Women Were Leaving the Men.” Andy was one of Steven’s professors at Kalamazoo College. “He really pushes the boundaries of storytelling.”