Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Marie Claire
Marie Claire
Quinci LeGardye

Who is Elizabeth Yu, a.k.a. Azula in Netflix's 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'?

Elizabeth Yu as Azula in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Netflix's live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender is bringing the beloved cartoon series' main characters to life in an action-packed season featuring several new rising stars. Among the young cast is Korean-American actress Elizabeth Yu, who plays the terrifying badass Azula, Princess of the Fire Nation. While Azula only arrived in the second season of the original series, the new remake introduces the fan-favorite character from the start, and Yu gives an impressive performance as the daughter caught in a long-distance sibling rivalry with her brother Prince Zuko (Dallas Liu).

Even though ATLA is her first television role, Yu will be a familiar face to cinema fans, who first saw her Netflix debut in one of 2023's best drama movies. If you want to learn more about her, read on for a breakdown of Yu's career so far, as well as her romantic history with another well-known actor.

She previously starred in 'May December.'

Yu was born in October 2002 in New Jersey and only recently made her debut in Hollywood, with a supporting role in the 2022 indie film Somewhere In Queens. She made her Netflix debut last year in Todd Haynes' Oscar-nominated film May December, where she acted alongside Charles Melton and Julianne Moore as high school grad Mary Atherton-Yoo. Avatar: The Last Airbender is her first television role.

Elizabeth Yu attends the world premiere of 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' at The Egyptian Theatre Hollywood on February 15, 2024. (Image credit: Presley Ann/Getty Images for Netflix)

She's dating a fellow Netflix star.

On the romantic front, Yu has been in a relationship with Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo since 2018. The actors share an apartment (and three cats) in New Jersey and regularly post pics of each other on social media, including a sweet throwback from Yu's senior prom. They've also supported each other on red carpets, with Yu accompanying Matarazzo to the Stranger Things season 4 premiere, and Matarazzo serving as Yu's plus one for the May December and Avatar: The Last Airbender premieres.

In an interview with Refinery29, Yu said that the couple—who have been together since they were both 15—has aimed to keep their careers separate from their relationship. She also admitted that seeing his rise to fame with Stranger Things has given her inspiration for her own career. “Getting to see someone with such a huge heart navigate this industry is the best advice that I could be given,” she said, adding, “We’re both still trying to figure it out, and it’s really cool to be able to do it together.” 

Yu and Matarazzo at the after-party for the 'May December' LA premiere on November 16, 2023. (Image credit: Natasha Campos/Getty Images for Netflix)

She's unfazed about fan responses to her casting.

Yu recently opened up to Refinery29 about the controversial response to her casting as Azula, when fans took to social media to suggest she looked "too innocent" to play the notoriously brutal villain. In the interview, she explained that she didn't take the criticism seriously: “I think anybody playing this part would’ve gotten some kind of backlash.” She also described the character as “a girl boss,” but “evil,” adding, “Azula is my baby girl, she’s my boo thing. I love her.”

Instead, the Korean-American star said that she's more concerned with what her two younger sisters will think of the show, recognizing that ATLA and other recent Hollywood films have helped make strides in on-screen Asian American representation. “The idea that my little sisters are going to be able to watch TV and movies, and the likelihood of them getting to see someone that looks like them is so much higher, is such a win. It’s so healing to know that we’re creating an industry where little girls — little anyones — can feel like that,” she said.

Yu plays the badass villain Azula, Princess of the Fire Nation, in 'Avatar: The Last Airbender.' (Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)
Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.