Eric Nam
K-pop singer Eric Nam wins TIME100 Impact Award Image Credit: Instagram/@ericnam

K-pop idol, television celebrity, and mental health advocate Eric Nam won the TIME100 Impact Awards this year. A video of his acceptance speech is going viral on social media for all the right reasons.

According to Time magazine, Nam was one of the five recipients this year, including actor Ke Huy-quan, Kenyan climate activist and the founder of Green Generation Initiative Elizabeth Wathuti, Bollywood actor and activist Ayushmann Khurrana, and Iraqi-American women’s rights activist Zainab Salbi.

Awarded annually, the TIME 100 Impact Awards selects those who have made efforts outside of their professional fields to create a better society. The awards ceremony was held at the National Gallery of Singapore on September 17 and over 200 people from various fields gathered at the gallery to celebrate the awardees.

Nam was awarded for cofounding the content production company Dive Studios with his brothers, Brian and Eddie, in 2019 and launching the mental health self-care app Mindset.

Dive Studios is a podcast production company that aims to positively impact culture and society through audio collections of personal stories and life lessons.

As he accepted his award, Nam took to the stage to elaborate upon his journey to K-pop stardom and the mental struggles he had to overcome.

“A little over 10 years ago, I decided to try my hand at entertainment. I quit what was to be a respectable, strategic, consulting job in New York, to become a ‘singer’, much to the absolute horror of my parents. I was nervous but elated to trade Excel sheets and corporate grind for music videos, albums, content, and TV shows around the world,” said the 34-year-old solo artist.

“However, building a career in entertainment has been anything but easy, it has been a road full of jarring surprises – the highest of highs, like this (winning the award), and the lowest of lows.”

In his rise to K-pop stardom like many other K-pop stars, Nam had wrestled with mental health, experiencing feelings of anxiety, depression, and ‘otherness’.

“Earlier on in my career, when I asked about getting help for anxiety, panic attacks, and forms of depression, I was told that I would risk and damage my flourishing career. The lack of professional support and care ultimately manifested in painful ailments that left me in a vicious cycle of poor physical and mental health.”

Nam, who had seen his fellow stars struggling with mental health as well, decided not to stay quiet about it. Not only did he start including mental health as a theme in his songs, but he also started conversations on and off-screen surrounding the topic. He created Dive Studios and the Mindset app, to help people focus on mental health.

“Fast forward to today, and I am receiving a TIME 100 impact award, which is pretty wild, for being open and honest about something I believe we can all be honest and open about – our mental health. Mental health is at the beginning and is at the end of everything that we are. It affects every single thing on this planet. It affects how we see ourselves, how we present ourselves, and thus, how we build careers and our relationships. Mental health affects how we think, how we act, how we love, and how we are. Yet for some reason, this thing that is at the core of every single person on this planet continues to be taboo. And, while progress has been made, let’s continue to work together, and improve and normalise our approach to dealing with mental health,” he said during the speech.

Fans took to social media to share his speech and congratulate the ‘Echo’ singer.

Recently, Nam was also seen trending on social media, when he challenged his long-time friend, K-pop idol and ‘Seven’ singer Jungkook, to eat seven spicy wings. A clip of this went viral on X (formerly Twitter).

On a reality show, when doing a spicy wing challenge, he was asked: "Who do you want to see on a reality show?”

Nam replied: “Jungkook from BTS, I want to see him eat seven pieces of hot wings."