An exciting moment in history was made as Awkwafina became the first performer of Asian descent to win for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy last night at the Golden Globes. Born Nora Lum, the actress broke ground as no woman of Asian descent had even been nominated in the category for decades until last year. The streak was “finally broken when Constance Wu nabbed a nomination for her performance in 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians,” as reported by Vox.
During her acceptance speech, Awkwafina thanked Zhao Shuzhe, her onscreen grandma, The Farewell’s director Lulu Wang for “the chance of a lifetime,” and dedicated the award to her dad joking, “I told you I’d get a job, dad.” She rounded off the speech by thanking her late mother, “...and to my mother, Tia, who I always hoped was watching from somewhere above, I hope that she’s watching now.”
Watch part of her acceptance speech below (VPN off):
While she is more commonly known for her comedic roles (see: Peik Lin from 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians, Constance in Ocean’s 8) – she won for her performance in The Farewell, a dramedy which was one of the most hotly anticipated Chinese cinema releases last year, in addition to being a Sundance hit.
In the movie (which will be finally hitting Chinese cinemas this weekend), Awkwafina shows off her bilingualism playing the protagonist, Billi, a young Chinese-American woman who returns to China with her family to visit her ailing grandmother who is dying from cancer. Although the story contains around 80% Mandarin dialogue, it is very much captured from a Chinese-American perspective. Chinese audiences have harshly criticized the star for her appearance and identity as an overseas Chinese (Look who’s laughing now!).
Despite the commentary, Awkwafina has garnered respect and inspired fans all around the world with her performance and humble beginnings. Catch The Farewell out this week on January 10.
[Cover image via @awkwafina/Instagram]