Up Next: BuzzFeed’s Eugene Lee Yang Mixes Humor With Social Commentary

Age 32

Hometown: Pflugerville, Tex.

Now Lives: In a 1950s two-bedroom apartment in West Hollywood, Calif.

Claim to Fame: Mr. Yang is an online personality and film director who is best known for his role on BuzzFeed’s “The Try Guys.” The show blends whimsical humor with earnest social commentary through outlandish scenarios, like simulating labor pains and checking for prostate cancer in a doctor’s office. As the series has taken off over multiple seasons, he has become a prolific comedic performer and a role model for other Asian-American social media stars.

Big Break: After graduating from film school at the University of Southern California, Mr. Yang found his way to the video branch of BuzzFeed in 2014, where he was given free rein to experiment with writing and directing novel story formats. His early work explored pervasive stereotypes about Asian-Americans and body issues, including the popular, “Women’s Ideal Body Types Throughout History,” which, with more than 44 million views on YouTube, remains one of BuzzFeed’s most watched. The positive reaction to the candor and reliability of some of these early works encouraged sketches examining even more provocative topics, leading to the conception of the Try Guys.

Latest Project: Mr. Yang plans to leave BuzzFeed this year and start his own production company with the rest of the Try Guys cast. There he hopes to create innovative unscripted comedy that digs into the psyche of millennials and sensationalized internet culture.

Next Thing: YouTube fame may have its rewards, but Mr. Yang is eager to return to his filmmaking roots behind the camera. Among other things, he is developing a semi-autobiographical comedy-drama show about a dysfunctional Korean-American family. His manager at Avalon Management is also looking to cast him in larger film roles. “I’m most concerned with committing to characters that contribute to more complex, modern and dynamic Asian-American representation on screen,” Mr. Yang said.

Taking Pride: Growing up, Mr. Yang never thought he would find mainstream acceptance. “I was a very insecure, self-conscious kid, and as an artist even more so,” he said. “I always assumed that my otherness was a curse — that I would be held back by my Asian and queer identities. My time online has shown me that the viewers will respond most to authentic storytelling.”

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