Awkwafina has a habit of going viral and making history. The actress, born Nora Lum, played a major role in the 2018 Hollywood hit Crazy Rich Asians, is officially the first Asian American performer to win a Golden Globe in the lead actress film category, and the sixth actor of Asian descent to be nominated in that category. Alongside dual star-studded chiefly Asian casts in her most famous roles, the 31-year-old has turned her teenage alter-ego into a notable presence in entertainment.
The award that made history for the Golden Globes was for the movie comedy-drama (heavy on the drama), The Farewell, starring a predominantly Asian cast. In the film, the family of Awkwafina’s character, Billi, hide news of a terminal diagnosis from her maternal grandmother, Nai Nai. Awkwafina, known for her more comedic roles , shifts into the dramatics with her role as Billi, showing off that she has range from music to comedy and drama as well.
While accepting her award, Awkwafina kept her speech light, injecting her distinctive humor into the history making moment. She thanked her director, Lulu Wang, for giving her the “chance of a lifetime” through her role as Billi. Awkafina called out another important person in her life, thanking her father, while adding, “I told you I’d get a job, Dad.”
Back in her seat, Awkwafina chose to celebrate with a special someone who wasn’t alongside her at the ceremony. On her Instagram, she posted a photo holding her award while Facetiming her grandma, sharing the moment with another special person in her life.
Raised in Queens, New York, the rapper turned actress began her musical training in high school and beginning to rap and create her own music by the time she was a teenager. It was until college in 2012 when one of her songs went viral, kicking off the trajectory of her now budding career.
After a series of small recurring roles on MTV and supporting roles in movies and Netflix feature films, Awkwafina hit it big time with her role as Peik Lin Goh in John M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians as well as a principal character in the star-studded Ocean’s 8. On her rise to superstardom, she followed in Lucy Liu’s steps (and cited her as an inspiration) to host Saturday Night Live as their second ever east Asian-American host.
While her role in The Farewell is a step away from her typical comedic ventures, Awkwafina rounded out her decade-long career as a rapper and actress with a spot in Jumanji: The Next Level as the avatar Ming Fleetfoot. The resume she’s created while relatively new to the industry doesn’t stop there. In her return to comedy, the born and raised New Yorker is set to star in her own Comedy Central sitcom, Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, debuting at the end of January. Playing a fictionalized version of herself, the show will loosely showcase her life, following a 20-something woman from Queens, New York who“strives for a larger than life existence.”
Photo Credit: @GoldenGlobes