Awkwafina in 2018
June 2, 1988
|Residence||Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.|
|Alma mater||State University of New York at Albany|
Nora Lum (born June 2, 1988), known professionally as Awkwafina, is an American actress and rapper. She has played supporting roles in the comedy films Ocean's 8 and Crazy Rich Asians (2018) and a leading role in the comedy-drama The Farewell (2019). The lattermost earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress nomination.
She has released two albums, Yellow Ranger (2014) and In Fina We Trust (2018). She has also ventured into comedy and hosting, making television appearances in Girl Code, Future Man, and Saturday Night Live.
Lum was born in New York City to a Chinese-American father, Wally, and a South Korean immigrant mother, a painter. She grew up in Forest Hills, Queens. Her mother died when Lum was four, and she was raised by her father and paternal grandparents, becoming especially close to her paternal grandmother. One of her paternal great-grandfathers was a Chinese immigrant in the 1940s who opened the Cantonese restaurant Lum's in Flushing, Queens, one of the neighborhood's first Chinese restaurants.
Lum attended LaGuardia High School where she played the trumpet and was trained in classical music and jazz. At age 16, she adopted the stage name Awkwafina, "definitely a person I repressed" and an alter ego to her "quiet and more passive" personality during her college years. Lum majored in journalism and women's studies at the State University of New York at Albany. From 2006 to 2008, Lum attended Beijing Language and Culture University in China, where she studied Mandarin.
Lum states that Charles Bukowski, Anaïs Nin, Joan Didion, Tom Waits, and Chet Baker were early influences. Prior to her career in entertainment, she was an intern at local New York publications Gotham Gazette and the Times Union newspaper in Albany, and was a publicity assistant for publishing house Rodale.
Awkwafina began rapping at age 13. In 2012, she first gained popularity for her song "My Vag", a response to Mickey Avalon's "My Dick". The music video has garnered over four million views on YouTube. Her solo Hip hop album Yellow Ranger was released on February 11, 2014. The album consists of 11 tracks and includes a number of her previous singles released via YouTube, including the title track "Yellow Ranger", "Queef" and "NYC Bitche$".
She was part of the lineup at Tenacious D's Festival Supreme on October 25, 2014. In 2016, she collaborated with comedian Margaret Cho on "Green Tea", a song that pokes fun at Asian stereotypes.
She released an EP called In Fina We Trust which consists of 7 tracks on June 8, 2018.
Awkwafina is profiled in the 2016 documentary Bad Rap, which was an official selection at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. The film puts the spotlight on her as well as other fellow Asian-American rappers such as Dumbfoundead, Rekstizzy, and Lyricks.
In 2016, Awkwafina played a supporting role as Christine, a member of Kappa Nu in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, and voiced the role Quail in the animated comedy film Storks. In 2018, she starred in the indie comedy Dude, playing Rebecca, one of four best friends in the film. She was part of the principal cast in Ocean's 8, the all-female spinoff to the Ocean's Trilogy. She then co-starred in the film Crazy Rich Asians, directed by John M. Chu. She played Goh Peik Lin, a Singaporean college friend of lead character Rachel Chu (Constance Wu).
In 2019, she starred in the film The Farewell, directed by Lulu Wang. The film received critical acclaim and she played the lead role of Billi, a writer who visits her ill grandmother in China. It earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. She voiced Courtney in The Angry Birds Movie 2, and played Yu in the fantasy drama Paradise Hills.
Her other upcoming films include Jumanji: The Next Level,The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge, Breaking News in Yuba County,The Prom, and a live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. At San Diego Comic Con 2019, it was announced that Awkwafina will be part of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) alongside Simu Liu as Shang-Chi and Tony Leung as the Mandarin.
In 2014, Awkwafina was in the third season of Girl Code, appearing in six episodes of the third and fourth seasons. In 2015, she served as co-host for the spin-off titled Girl Code Live on MTV. She was the host of self-created short-form talk show web series Tawk from 2015 to 2017. The show was an Official Honoree at the 2016 Webby Awards and was nominated for a 2016 Streamy Award in the News and Culture category.
She has a recurring role in the Hulu original series Future Man in 2017. She hosted the 2018 iHeartRadio MMVAs. She hosted the October 6, 2018, episode of Saturday Night Live, becoming the second East Asian-American female celebrity (after Lucy Liu, whose episode Awkwafina cites as her inspiration to one day be famous enough to host SNL) to host the show. Her celebrity impression for the episode was Sandra Oh (who also became the first East Asian-Canadian female celebrity to host an SNL episode within the same season and the third East Asian-American female celebrity to host overall). She will star in the upcoming comedy series Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens, she is also writer and executive producer of the show.
Awkwafina has expressed support for Time's Up, a movement started by Hollywood celebrities against sexual harassment. She has also advocated for the need for more female directors and against the stereotyping of Asians in media.
Awkwafina was honored as Kore Asian Media's Female Breakout of the Year in December 2017. She was featured in Gap's "Logo Remix" campaign, which featured up-and-coming artists who "are remixing creative culture on their own terms," such as SZA, Sabrina Claudio and Naomi Watanabe.
In 2015, she released a guidebook, Awkwafina's NYC, her travel guide to New York City.
|In Fina We Trust||
|"My Vag"||2012||Non-album single|
|"NYC Bitche$"||2013||Yellow Ranger|
|"Mayor Bloomberg (Giant Margaritas)"|
|"Come Stop Me" (feat. Dumbfoundead)|
|"Yellow Alert" (feat. Dumbfoundead)||2016|
|"Green Tea" (feat. Margaret Cho)|
|"Pockiez"||2018||In Fina We Trust|
|Denotes films that have not yet been released|
|2016||Bad Rap||Herself||Salima Koroma||Documentary|
|Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising||Christine||Nicholas Stoller|
|Storks||Quail (voice)||Nicholas Stoller
|Ocean's 8||Constance||Gary Ross|
|Crazy Rich Asians||Goh Peik Lin||Jon M. Chu|
|2019||The Farewell||Billi||Lulu Wang|
|Paradise Hills||Yu||Alice Waddington|
|The Angry Birds Movie 2||Courtney (voice)||Thurop Van Orman|
|Between Two Ferns: The Movie||Herself||Scott Aukerman|
|Jumanji: The Next Level||Ming||Jake Kasdan||Post-production|
|2020||The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run||TBA (voice)||Tim Hill||Post-production|
|Raya and the Last Dragon||Sisu (voice)||Paul Briggs
|TBA||Breaking News in Yuba County||Kavi||Tate Taylor||Post-production|
|TBA||The Prom||Ms. Sheldon||Ryan Murphy||Filming|
|Denotes series that have not yet been released|
|2014-2015||Girl Code||Herself||6 episodes|
|2015||Girl Code Live||Herself (co-host)||10 episodes|
|Regular Show||Apple (voice)||Episode: "Hello China"|
|2016||Mary + Jane||Gina||Episode: "Noachella"|
|2017||Future Man||Woman at Video Game Store||3 episodes|
|2018||Animals.||Annie (voice)||Episode: "Roachella"|
|Saturday Night Live||Herself (host)||Episode: "Awkwafina/Travis Scott"|
|2019||Weird City||Charlotta||Episode: "Below"|
|The Simpsons||Carmen / Dr. Chang (voice)||2 episodes|
|Tuca & Bertie||Bertie's Left Boob (voice)||Episode: "The Promotion"|
|The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance||The Collector (skekLach) (voice)|
|TBA||Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens||Nora||Main role; also writer and executive producer|
|2018||Hawaii International Film Festival||Halekulani Maverick Award||Herself||Won|
|San Diego Film Critics Society Awards||Best Comedic Performance||Crazy Rich Asians||Nominated|
|2019||9th The Asian Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Cinema||Crazy Rich Asians||Won|||
|Dorian Awards||We're Wilde About You / Rising Star of the Year||Herself||Won|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||Crazy Rich Asians||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Comedy Movie Actress||Crazy Rich Asians||Nominated|||
|Gotham Independent Film Awards||Best Actress||The Farewell||Won|
|Critics' Choice Awards||Best Actress||The Farewell||Pending|
|2020||Golden Globes Awards||Best Actress - Motion Picture Comedy or Musical||The Farewell||Pending|