Okja's Steven Yeun and Giancarlo Esposito Gave Us Great Advice on How We Can Change the World
The youth is, no doubt, the hope of the future. This is why we're happy that more and more teens are doing great things to have their voices heard, especially in these troubled times, and change the world little by little as a result, just like Malala Yousafzai and Joshua Wong. Those are just few faces of activism that we see in the news and in social media.
In the Netflix original movie Okja (we're going to tell you all about it later, we promise!), viewers are shown another face of activism we may or may not have seen before. This film is about Mija's (Ahn Seo Hyun) best friend Okja—a genetically modified creature meant to be raised for consumption—who's taken back to New York by the corporation that "made" her to be turned into meat products, like bacon, sausages, and jerky. The young girl, of course, goes on a quest to save her friend, meeting members of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) on the way, and they vow to help her bring Okja back home to the mountains of South Korea.
It's both inspiring and scary to watch the ALF go on a rollercoaster adventure with Mija just to fight for what they believe in. There are even moments when they resort to extreme measures just to meet their goals. We know they could avoid getting violent, but we also know that there are just moments when you can't avoid it, especially when force is being exercised upon you.
Below: The Animal Liberation Front in Okja played by Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Daniel Henshall, and Devon Bostick.
So during our roundtable interview with Okja actors Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and Giancarlo Esposito (The Maze Runner: Death Cure), we just had to ask them about this face of activism shown in the movie along with the best way they think young people today can express their thoughts so they're heard by the right people.
Steven, who played K in the film, emphasized how it's important to know what works for you because, nowadays, there are so many ways for us to express ourselves.
"There are so many ways to express [your thoughts]. I think, activism comes in many forms, too. I don't know how to comment specifically on the best way, but I think the best way is to do what's of you naturally. If that means you want to stand up, fight, and say the loudest version of what you believe, that's cool. If you want to be a little bit behind-the-scenes and say 'I want to express myself in this way,' then that's cool, too," he told us.
"I don't know how to comment specifically on the best way, but I think the best way is to do what's of you naturally." —Steven Yeun
But while doing so, he says, we have to remember one very important thing. "What we have to remember overall is that it is empathy that will save us. It is compassion that will save us, because it is the only thing that matters at the end of the day," Steven explained.
"Like what Tilda [Swinton] said, the expression of evil is truly a lack of empathy. And you do see evil in this place and time that you're living; it's because they can only see from their myopic point of view, so they just think, 'Why isn't anybody doing as well as I am?' Then they oppress [people], but [ultimately] I think it's very important that you do you."
"What we have to remember overall is that it is empathy that will save us. It is compassion that will save us, because it is the only thing that matters at the end of the day." —Steven Yeun
Giancarlo, who plays villain Frank Dawson in Okja, on the other hand, gave us a few helpful steps in making a stand. He said, "Activism [means] to act, to act out, to do something, to speak out. I think that [in Okja], we have an organization, the weekend warriors, they go and do things because they have to, and so you could also say that they do violent things to prevent violence from happening to animals.
"But you asked how young people could exercise their right to speak out and stand up. Like my mom used to say, you can get more with sugar than you can with salt. So how do you do that? How do you do that in this world where you feel compelled to find your voice?"
"First you find your voice. Then maybe young people can actually speak out and find a way to do it with grace. Find a way to do it with compassion. Be forceful. Be honest." —Giancarlo Esposito
He then proceeds and explains that adults also have a role in how young people find it in them to speak up about important matters in society.
"But how do they get to feel like they're worthy of speaking out? Well, they need to be empowered. So we need to empower each other and say it's okay, so we complain that the world is the way it is [because] we allow corporations and governments to tell us how it should be and to set the parameters for what our lives should be. We allowed and empowered those people to tell us how we should live our lives," Giancarlo continues.
"So how do we take that [power] back? We empower our own people, to speak out, make a change, and do it with love and compassion and drive and commitment. Of course, that takes a lot of sacrifice but that's how things will change."
"So how do we take that [power] back? We empower our own people, to speak out, make a change, and do it with love and compassion and drive and commitment." —Giancarlo Esposito
While it is important for us to be heard, we love how these two actors emphasized on what really matters above all else: that we treat each other with respect. As we all know, we won't always have the same views and opinions as our families, friends, and the people around us. It's just how things are, because we're wired differently. So we might as well respect each other along the way because, at the end of the day, we're all citizens of this world, one world, and we all just want to live our lives peacefully.
Okja is set to premiere on Netflix on June 28.