Awkwafina, otherwise known as Nora Lum, made her debut as a rapper in 2016 with hits such as as “My Vag,” “Queef,” and “NYC Bitche$.” Now she’s a major star, appearing in Neighbors 2, Girl Code, Bad Rap, Crazy Rich Asians, and Ocean’s 8, as well as hosting her own talk show.
As you may have guessed by her song titles, Awkwafina is known as a feminist. In fact, “My Vag” is considered a feminist anthem by many. But it wasn’t always that way. Awkwafina tends to reject having a bigger point to the song she put on Youtube at age 19.
“I am not one of those girls who’s like, ‘Um I’m not a feminist,’ but I didn’t think, ‘My music is going to be so good and so powerful that all people are going to be so moved by it!’ I actually came to discover that women were very empowered by that song,” she said.
Even as she grew Awkwafina from an online personality into a person, Lum knew she had to take risks. According to Lum, she always wanted to be a serious musician, even when her persona as Awkwafina caused her to lose several jobs.
As an Asian woman in Hollywood that doesn’t seem to fit into any particular box, Lum has faced stereotypes and yet continues to fight for an accurate representation of her race in films. She said that casting is changing for the better, as there are more people of color in positions of influence within the entertainment industry.
“In Ocean’s Eight, my character’s identity has nothing to do with her being Asian, which is the direction I see Hollywood going because they’re being called out for it. I think it’s important for people of color to not really feed that system by taking roles that are making a buffoonery out of them, just so they can get a job,” Lum says.
Even though Lum has come a long way, she’s never forgotten her days of struggle. Because of this, she’s something of a workaholic, taking in project after project. She’s currently working on three films set to release in 2019 as well as her second album. Despite her success as an actress, Lum wants to continue perfecting Awkwafina and creating music.
While Lum may not want to be the next Asian American role model, she does believe in the power of staying true to herself, whether or not people like the outcome. In fact, she prides herself on her shamelessness and sense of humor. She defines this as “being all in on what you believe in and what speaks to you.” This is what gives her the confidence to get on stage or get in front of the camera.In the end, Lum’s advice to women struggling to find their voice is simple. “…we need to take risks. We need to go broke. We need to prove them wrong, simply by not giving up,” she says.
Featured Image by MTV International on YouTube