In 2012, when her YouTube video “My Vag” went viral, Awkwafina became well-known. She’s been in movies like “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Ocean’s 8,” and “The Farewell” since then.

Who Is Awkwafina?

Awkwafina’s rap song “My Vag” had a funny music video on YouTube in 2012. The video ended up going viral, which cost her a job promoting books but set her on the path to becoming a movie and TV star. In 2018, Awkwafina played a key supporting role in the hit movies Ocean’s eight and Crazy Rich Asians. The next year, she won an award for playing the lead role in The Farewell. She also worked on the show Awkwafina Is NorafFrom Queens, in which she also stars.

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Early Life:

Awkwafina was conceived by Nora Lum on June 2, 1988, in Stony Brook, Long Island. She is the little girl of Wally, who is Chinese American, and Tia, who came to the United States from South Korea to attend SUNY New Paltz. Awkwafina was four years old when her painter mother, Tia, died of high blood pressure in her lungs. After she lost, Awkwafina tried to make people laugh to make them feel better. Awkwafina wrote in People magazine in 2019: “I often think about what I would be doing now if my mom hadn’t died. I don’t think I’d be here if I hadn’t been through some kind of trauma that made me so free and joyfully self-deprecating.”


Awkwafina was raised in Forest Hills, Queens, by her father and his mother. She has said that whenever she turned five, all she wanted for her birthday was to be on TV. But until she was seven and saw Margaret Cho on TV, she didn’t feel like she had any role models who looked like her. “Cho changed my life,” says Awkwafina. She used to wait outside the studios of Saturday Night Live to see Liu host the show when she was young.

Stereotype of a Submissive Asian Woman:

Awkwafina says that her grandmother gave her more confidence because she didn’t fit the stereotype of a submissive Asian woman: “My grandmother loved me no matter what, “Don’t ever be ashamed of what makes you weird because that’s why I love you, and that’s what makes you special,” my grandmother told me. Even when I was a child, I always had this voice.

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The First Jobs and School:

When she was in school, Awkwafina started playing the trumpet because it was the loudest instrument she could find (too many kids wanted the drums). She played well enough to get into Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, which was the inspiration for the school in the movie and TV show Fame. She agreed with her teachers, though, that she shouldn’t try to play the instrument for a living. After high school, she went to SUNY Albany and studied journalism with a minor in women’s studies.

Work as an Assistant in Public Relations:

After college, Awkwafina worked as an assistant in public relations, but she was fired when “My Vag” came out. She then worked at places like a vegan bodega to make money while trying to get into the entertainment business. During this time, her father tried to get her to think about jobs that he thought were safer, like being an air traffic controller or a meat inspector. But as Awkwafina’s success grew, he came to accept her path.

The Story Behind the Name Awkwafina:

Awkwafina thought of the name Awkwafina when she was 16 years of age. The way the name was spelt was meant to show how awkward she felt. When she put the video for “My Vag” on YouTube years later, she said, “Putting the video under a random name seemed dishonest. I did what I thought was right.” Then real people started calling me that.”

Interview Report:

In an interview in 2018, Awkwafina talked about how creating a new identity has helped her perform: “She comes in, and in many ways, she represents that universal aspect of confidence—that voice you kind of reach for when you need to pick yourself up.” Yet, in the Hollywood 2020 issue of Vanity Fair, she said that her identities as Nora and Awkwafina are becoming less different. “When I first started performing as Awkwafina, the person on stage and the person having a panic attack at home were more different.


When she was young, Awkwafina liked to listen to rap music. She was rapping by the time she was 13, and she later used GarageBand to make her own beats. At age 19, she wrote, “My Vag” as a response to “My Dick” by Mickey Avalon. In 2012, she put a cheap video on YouTube of a funny song about talking trash. The choice she made changed the course of her life. She told Rolling Stone in 2018: “I thought nothing would happen. There was no plan.

Launch Books:

After “My Vag,” Awkwafina came out with songs like “NYC Bitche$” and “Giant Margaritas.” Yellow Ranger, her album, came out in 2014. She worked with Cho on the Asian stereotype-making 2016 movie “Green Tea.” Awkwafina was also featured in the documentary Bad Rap, which was about her and three other Asian American rappers. The book In Fina We Trust came out in 2018.

Acting Career:

Awkwafina’s acting career is going well, but she has no plans to stop making music. She doesn’t think many people will like her music, though. In an interview in 2017, she said, “I’ve kind of given up on trying to get Awkwafina known by everyone.” “I’m going to keep making strange music. My small niche of fans, who are still with me, will still like it, and I think most people will still find it strange.”


Awkwafina’s first role in a movie was in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. She was a sorority girl in the play (2016). Seth Rogen, who was in the movie, saw her video on YouTube and invited her to try out for the part. Then, in the movie Dude, she was one of a group of female stoners (2018). Olivia Milch, who wrote Ocean’s eight and directed Dude, suggested that Awkwafina join the movie’s all-star cast.

Romantic Comedy Crazy Rich Asians:

After playing Peik Lin in the hit romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, Awkwafina’s popularity grew. But she did get some criticism for using a “blaccent” in parts of the movie and at other times in her career. This is when a non-Black person uses Black slang.

Awkwafina took another step up with the 2019 release of The Farewell. In her first leading role, she played a Chinese American woman who was angry that her family didn’t tell her Chinese grandmother that she had cancer and would die soon. Awkwafina has said that the role spoke to her because she lost her mother when she was young. Awkwafina won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in The Farewell in 2020, making her the first Asian American to do so.

Learn Mandarin:

In order to be in The Farewell, Awkwafina had to learn Mandarin. Awkwafina did not grow up in a home where people spoke Chinese, but when she was a young woman. She went to China to learn the language. She focuses on her language skills to prepare for the role, but her character goes from being a fluent speaker to someone whose language skills are more like Awkwafina’s.

TV programs:

Awkwafina was the person in charge of the weird online talk show TAWK. She was on Girl Code on MTV in 2014, and the following year she was on Girl Code Live, which was a spinoff of Girl Code. In 2018, Awkwafina hosted Saturday Night Live. She did that for the second time as an Asian American woman.

Comedy Central:

The first episode of Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens, which airs on Comedy Central, came out in 2020. Before it even started, Awkwafina’s show about her family and life in New York City was picked up for a second season.

As a Role Model:

In 2018, Awkwafina told Elle, “There are young Asian girls who really look up to me, and I say that in the least cocky way possible”. “You need to make them look good, and you can’t do that by being stupidly controversial.”


Because of this, Awkwafina is careful about how she runs her career. At an audition, she “walked right out of that” when they asked her to speak with a fake Asian accent. Some characters and situations might need accents, but if it’s not done well, it’s just wrong. She has also said, “I think being able to say no to roles is a privilege.”

Use Her Voice and Position to Do the Best:

Awkwafina plans to use her voice and position to do the best she can. She said, in 2019, “I don’t know how much control I have over my future, but I do know that I want to help the next generation if I ever get a chance. It doesn’t end here. It has to keep going.”