She Made $9 an Hour Just 6 Years Ago, Now She’s a Golden Globe Winner
Awkwafina is back in the headlines for making history as the first Asian American woman to win a Golden Globe for lead actress on Sunday, joining a small group of talents of Asian descent who have won in the ceremony since its inauguration.
Friends and longtime fans would know that Awkwafina — born Nora Lum — had it rough before she managed to make a name for herself.
The Queens native first caught attention as a rapper in 2012 with “My Vag,” an apparent response to Mickey Avalon’s “My Dick.”
The following year, she released “NYC B*tche$,” a song she had written while making $9 an hour at a vegan bodega.
“One day, I got the email of my life. An A&R exec at a major record label wanted to meet with me. I listened to ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac on the way to the meeting. He listened to two of my songs and never called again,” Awkwafina wrote in 2018, the year she became a breakout star in “Crazy Rich Asians.”
“I remembered those days when I got fired from my job for Awkwafina, when I was broke for Awkwafina, when I got kicked off line-ups because ‘Awkwafina is a joke.’ Awkwafina was a dream I was chasing, and in some ways, I am still chasing her,” she continued.
“But we need to take risks. We need to go broke. We need to prove them wrong, simply by not giving up.”
Awkwafina would go on to appear in several TV series (“Drive Share,” “Future Man”) and host her own talk show called “Tawk.”
Her first films, which came out in 2016, include “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” (2016), where she played the role of Christine, and the Warner Bros. 3D adventure “Storks,” where she voiced the character of Quail.
It was in 2018 when Awkwafina gained worldwide popularity after playing Goh Peik Lin in Jon M. Chu’s “Crazy Rich Asians,” which starred Henry Golding, Constance Wu and Michelle Yeoh.
In the same year, she starred in the Netflix film “Dude” and Warner Bros.’ “Ocean’s 8,” which co-starred Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling and Cate Blanchett (Blanchett was nominated for the Golden Globe she had won on Sunday).
While Awkwafina immersed herself in acting in 2018, she has continued rapping and released an album titled “In Fina We Trust,” featuring seven new tracks.
One of the songs, titled “Pockiez,” was released with a music video, which has now nearly one million views on YouTube.
2019 welcomed a series of projects for Awkwafina, from voicing characters on “The Simpsons” and “Angry Birds 2” to acting roles in “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance,” “Jumanji: The Next Level” and, of course, “The Farewell,” to name a few.
With her latest achievement and an Oscar buzz underway, 2020 only seems poised to be more fruitful for the Asian American star.
This year, Awkwafina will lend her voice to “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,” “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “The Little Mermaid.”
Fans are also excited to see her in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” as well as her own TV series, “Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens,” which airs on Jan. 22 on Comedy Central.
“I’ve been watching Comedy Central since I was old enough to hold a remote, and so many of their shows have defined who I am today,” Awkwafina said in 2018. “I am so honored to be given their platform to tell the story of an Asian-American girl against the backdrop of the city I was raised.”