In 2017, the 31-year-old actress, whose real name is Nora Lum, admitted her stage name doesn’t have any symbolic meaning behind it or a great story, Cosmopolitan
“I just really thought it was funny when people try to subtilize products like Neutrogena,”
Awkwafina told Galore
. “Because I just imagine someone sitting there thinking about all these weird names, especially the water names. But anyways, I just came up with it when I was sixteen and thought it was really funny.”
“And then I eventually adopted it. People started calling me that name and I was like, ‘I can’t believe they’re actually calling me this f***ing name, it’s so stupid.’ But I don’t even care. There’s no difference.”
Her stage name had a different spelling when she first came up with the idea, but it had to be changed to prevent being sued by the water company, Aquafina.
“Well, so what happened was that when I was 16-years-old, it was just Aquafina — like my rap name was just Aquafina, but then I think when we were putting out the video, the guy that made the video — and also encouraged me to put out the whole thing — he was like, ‘well, we should change the spelling so you don’t get sued,’ and I was like, ‘I feel like I’m going to get sued anyways.’”
“So, I was like, ‘I feel like people aren’t going to understand this,’ and he was like, ‘yeah, but I feel like it would be unique, so then people [will] look it up.’ But then no one knows how to spell it,” she added. “So, you know, it came back to bite me in the ass.”
Awkwafina told The Ringer
that she will continue using her stage name.
“Well, I think that the ability for a musician to use their real name is a privilege, so you have to be in a certain class of musician to even have that advantage,” she said.
“It’s something that I thought about, but it is a privilege — a privilege that I don’t have. I feel like if I use Nora Lum, people would literally think I’m a different person. Which has its ups and downs, but I think a lot of aspects of Awkwafina bleed into the roles I’ve been taking in movies. So I don’t think that it’s inaccurate, you know?”
Even though the name doesn’t have a great story behind it, Awkwafina said it refers to a person she repressed — who gives her an “extra burst of confidence.”
“She’s the girl who’s high on sleepover energy, running around and dunking ice cream cones in her eyes,”
Awkwafina told Into the Gloss
“College was like prison reform where I learned to be quiet and more passive—so when Awkwafina comes out on stage, she’s that crazy high school kid that doesn’t really care about anything.”