TOOK HOLLYWOOD BY STORM
By Lee Parham
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Awkwafina rose to fame quickly in the industry through many different platforms showcasing her immense amount of talent in entertainment.
Awkwafina, also known as Nora Lum, was born in Long Island, New York to a Chinese father and Korean mother whose families both immigrated to the United States.
Lum developed the stage name Awkwafina in high school and took it with her to college. She recounts the name as an alter ego that’s more eccentric to her quiet and passive personality.
While floating around random jobs in the journalism industry, Awkwafina took to YouTube to upload some music videos of her own that eventually got her fired by her publicists.
Despite setbacks in her professional career, her YouTube videos started to blow up with the music video to her song “My V@G” gaining her millions of views.
YouTube success led to Awkwafina eventually receiving a record deal, releasing her first album Yellow Ranger in 2014. The album told the story of an Asian-American woman from a feminist perspective.
After fame online and in music, Awkwafina dove into the world of television and film, first appearing on reality TV shows like MTV’s Girl Code and in the documentary film Bad Rap.
She later made her big screen debut appearing in the comedy sequels Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising alongside Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, and Zac Efron.
Unsurprisingly, comedy has been a major outlet for Awkwafina, with some of her biggest film roles coming in comedic films.
Raya and the Last Dragon
Most notably Awkafina starred in the film adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians as Goh Peik Lin, the best friend of Rachel Chu, played by Costance Wu. The film introduced Awkwafina to mainstream audiences.
Crazy Rich Asians went on to become a major hit at the box office and served as a huge step for Asian representation in American and international media as well as springboarding many actors careers.
After this point she began getting cast in a slew of major motion pictures, including Ocean's 8, an all female led installment of the Ocean's franchise, and the sequel to the popular film Jumanji.
Jumanji: The Next Level
While Awkwafina’s knack for comedy was undeniable, many questioned if she had the chops to be a serious actor or not. All that changed with her performance in the 2019 film The Farewell.
The Farewell tells the story of a Chinese family gathering with their grandmother one last time before she dies. The drama was lauded by critics and Awkwafina won the Golden Globe for Best Actress.
In 2020 Awkwafina took to creating and starring in her own show for Comedy Central titled Nora from Queens, which has received critical acclaim and was renewed for a second season.
The actress has also lent her iconic raspy voice to many voiceover projects as well, including Storks, Angry Birds 2, and most recently as Sisu from Raya and the Last Dragon.
Raya and the Last Dragon
Awkwafina can now be seen joining the MCU in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first Marvel film with an Asian-lead, paving the way for great representation in Hollywood.
Whether it be comedy, superhero spectacle, rap songs, Asian representation, or serious drama, Awkwafina has cemented herself as one of the most talented young individuals in entertainment today.