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Awkwafina (cropped) 2.jpg
Awkwafina in 2018
Nora Lum

(1988-06-02) June 2, 1988 (age 32)
EducationFiorello H. LaGuardia High School
Alma materUniversity at Albany, SUNY
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • writer
  • producer
  • rapper
Years active2011–present
Musical career
Associated actsDumbfoundead
Nora Lum

Nora Lum[2] (born June 2, 1988),[3] known professionally as Awkwafina, is an American actor, comedian, internet personality, rapper, author and television host. She rose to prominence in 2012 when her rap song "My Vag" became popular on YouTube. She then released her debut album, Yellow Ranger (2014), and appeared on the MTV comedy series Girl Code (2014–2015). Her second album, In Fina We Trust, was released in 2018.

She played the supporting roles in the comedy films Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016), Ocean's 8 (2018), Crazy Rich Asians (2018), and Jumanji: The Next Level (2019). She played a leading role in the comedy-drama film The Farewell (2019), for which she received critical acclaim and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, becoming the first woman of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe in any lead actress film category. She was also nominated for the BAFTA in the Rising Star Category in 2020 and the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress, as well as winning the Satellite Award for Best Actress.

Awkwafina is co-creator, writer and executive producer of the Comedy Central series Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens (2020–present), in which she stars as a fictionalized version of herself.

Early life[edit]

Lum was born in Stony Brook, New York, on Long Island,[4] to a Chinese American father, Wally, and a Korean American mother, Tia, a painter who immigrated to the United States from South Korea in 1972.[5] Lum grew up in Forest Hills, Queens. Her mother died from pulmonary hypertension when Lum was four and she was raised by her father and paternal grandparents, becoming especially close to her paternal grandmother.[6][7] One of her paternal great-grandfathers was a Chinese immigrant in the 1940s who opened the Cantonese restaurant Lum's in Flushing, Queens,[5] one of the neighborhood's first Chinese restaurants.[6]

Lum attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, where she played the trumpet and was trained in classical music and jazz.[8][9] 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.[10][11][12] Lum majored in journalism and women's studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York.[9]

Awkwafina states that Charles Bukowski, Anaïs Nin, Joan Didion, Tom Waits and Chet Baker were early influences.[13] 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 the publishing house Rodale Books.[11] She later worked at a vegan bodega[clarification needed] after being let go from the publishing house when they discovered her music videos.[14]



Awkwafina began rapping at age 13.[12] She got her start producing music with GarageBand but eventually learned Logic Pro and Ableton.[14] In 2012 one of her songs, "My Vag", became popular on YouTube.[8] She originally wrote the song while in college[14] as a response to Mickey Avalon's "My Dick (Tribute to Nate)".[15] Due to the nature of the lyrics, she wore glasses to mask her identity, but was still subsequently fired from her job at a publishing house when her employer recognized her voice.[14][15]

Her solo hip-hop album Yellow Ranger was released on February 11, 2014.[16] 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$". In 2016, she collaborated with comedian Margaret Cho on "Green Tea", a song that pokes fun at Asian stereotypes.[17]

She was part of the lineup at Tenacious D's Festival Supreme on October 25, 2014.[18] Awkwafina was also a disc jockey (DJ) at bars in New York.[19][20][21]

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.[22][23]

She released an EP called In Fina We Trust which consists of 7 tracks on June 8, 2018.[24]


Awkwafina (right) with Ken Jeong

In 2014, Awkwafina was in the third season of Girl Code, appearing in six episodes of the third and fourth seasons.[25] In 2015, she served as co-host for the spin-off titled Girl Code Live on MTV.[26] She was the host of the short-form talk show web series Tawk for the digital production company Astronauts Wanted from 2015 to 2017. The first season premiered on YouTube and was later picked up for exclusive streaming on Verizon's Go90 platform.[27] 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.[28]

In 2016, Awkwafina played a supporting role as Christine, a member of Kappa Nu in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,[29][30] 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).[31]

She has a recurring role in the Hulu original series Future Man in 2017.[32] She hosted the 2018 iHeartRadio MMVAs.[33] 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).[34]

Awkwafina on the red carpet of the 77th Golden Globe Awards in 2020

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.[35] It earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.[36][37] This made her the first person of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe Award in any lead actress film category, after being only the sixth woman of Asian descent to be nominated in the lead actress in a musical or comedy category.[38] In the same year, she starred as avatar Ming Fleetfoot in the film Jumanji: The Next Level,[39] which turned to be a commercial success.[40][41]

In July 2019, Awkwafina was cast in Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, alongside actors Simu Liu and Tony Leung Chiu-wai. The film is slated to be released on May 7, 2021.[42]

She stars in the comedy series Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens; she is also writer and executive producer of that show. As part of the promotional campaign, she recorded new announcements for the 7 train of the New York City Subway,[43] making jokes, such as "This is Hunters Point Avenue, a friendly reminder that seats are for people, not your bag" and "This is 46th Street, which is a lucky number, I just learned that on the internet. Also learned that pigeons and doves are the same thing, WHAT?!", at every stop. These recordings were used until the series premiered on January 22.[43]

Awkwafina used an "Asian gangster New Yorker persona" in her Crazy Rich Asians role and rapped using a "Blaccent" on My Vag, which met with criticisms of misappropriating African-American culture.[44][45]

In the media[edit]

Awkwafina has expressed support for Time's Up, a movement started by Hollywood celebrities against sexual harassment.[46] She has also advocated for the need for more female directors and against the stereotyping of Asians in media.[46]

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.[47]

In 2015, she released the guidebook, Awkwafina's NYC.[48]

On May 16, 2019 she headlined The Infatuation's annual food festival, EEEEEATSCON. She spoke about her upbringing in Queens, where her family owned a Cantonese restaurant.[49]


Films that have not yet been released Denotes films that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
2016 Bad Rap Herself Documentary
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising Christine
Storks Quail (voice)
2018 Dude Rebecca
Ocean's 8 Constance
Crazy Rich Asians Goh Peik Lin
2019 The Farewell Billi Wang
Paradise Hills Yu
The Angry Birds Movie 2 Courtney (voice)
Between Two Ferns: The Movie Herself
Jumanji: The Next Level Ming Fleetfoot
2020 The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run Otto (voice)
2021 Raya and the Last Dragon Films that have not yet been released Sisu (voice) In production
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Films that have not yet been released TBA Filming
2021 Breaking News in Yuba County Films that have not yet been released Kavi Post-production
TBA The Little Mermaid Films that have not yet been released Scuttle (voice) Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2014–2015 Girl Code Herself 6 episodes
2015 Girl Code Live Herself (co-host) 10 episodes[50]
Regular Show Apple (voice) Episode: "Hello China"
2015–2017 Tawk Herself (host) 36 episodes
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) 7 episodes
2020–present Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens Nora Lin 10 episodes
Also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2020 One World: Together at Home Herself Television special


Studio albums
Title Details
Yellow Ranger
  • Released: February 11, 2014
  • Label: self-released
  • Format: Digital download
In Fina We Trust
  • Released: June 8, 2018
  • Label: self-released
  • Format: Digital download
Studio singles
Title Year Album
"My Vag" 2012 Non-album single
"NYC Bitche$" 2013 Yellow Ranger
"Mayor Bloomberg (Giant Margaritas)"
"Daydreamin'" 2014 Non-album single
"Come Stop Me"
(featuring Dumbfoundead)
"Yellow Alert"
(featuring Dumbfoundead)
"Green Tea"
(featuring Margaret Cho)
"Pockiez" 2018 In Fina We Trust

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awkwafina was honored as Kore Asian Media's Female Breakout of the Year in 2017.[51] For her performance in the comedy-drama film The Farewell, she received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical, the Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Award, among numerous other nominations. Alongside the film's ensemble, she was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Awkwafina also received a nomination for the BAFTA Rising Star Award.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2020年金球奖结果出人意料". Voice of America (in Chinese). January 6, 2020. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  2. ^ Despite some sources that give "Nora Lum Ying", Awkwafina said in 2018 it is simply "Nora Lum". Awkafina [@awkwafina] (June 19, 2018). "MY FULL NAME IS👏NORA👏LUM👏 NOT NORA LUM... YING" (Tweet). Archived from the original on January 6, 2019. Retrieved February 16, 2020 – via Twitter.
  3. ^ "Awkwafina Artist Biography". Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  4. ^ Awkwafina in Feinberg, Scott (November 10, 2019). 'Awards Chatter' Podcast — Awkwafina ('The Farewell'). Event occurs at 02:13. Retrieved January 6, 2019. I was born in Stony Brook, Long Island. I was raised in Forest Hills, Queens. And my mom was, like, a painter and my dad was an IT guy.
  5. ^ a b "5 Things to Know About 'Ocean's Eight' Star Awkwafina". Us Weekly. February 25, 2017. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "September Cover Story: Awkwafina Establishing Her Presence". KoreAm Journal. Archived from the original on March 31, 2019. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  7. ^ Bertodano, Helena de (June 17, 2018). "Awkwafina: 'I was always the crazy one, the funny one. I'd do anything for a laugh'". The Guardian. UK. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  8. ^ a b Trinh, Jean (March 14, 2013). "Meet Awkwafina: an Asian Female Rapper on Vaginas, Tackling Racism & More". The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC. Retrieved April 24, 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Awkwafina". New York State Writers Institute, University of Albany, SUNY. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  10. ^ "Awkwafina Won't Let You Forget Her Name". The Ringer. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Oceans Eight Star Awkwafina On Her Makeup Essentials". Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Awkwafina Got Fired From Her Office Job After Writing a Song Called "My Vag"". Galore. March 29, 2017. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  13. ^ "13 Awkward Questions With Rapper Awkwafina". Mochi Mag. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  14. ^ a b c d Awkwafina & The Race of Lyfe | TigerBelly 103, retrieved January 9, 2020
  15. ^ a b Sawa, Dale Berning (December 28, 2017). "Awkwafina: 'I was just rapping about my genitalia – not making a feminist message'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  16. ^ "Awkwafina". Discogs. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  17. ^ "Awkwafina x Margaret Cho - GREEN TEA" – via
  18. ^ Blistein, Jon (May 27, 2014). "Tenacious D Combine Jokes and Jams for 2014 Festival Supreme Lineup". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
  19. ^ "Meet EatGoodNYC, the Cupcake Hustlers at the Intersection of Pastry, Hip-Hop, and Streetwear". First We Feast. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  20. ^ "Awkwafina". Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  21. ^ ASIANS IN NYC ft. Awkwafina | Fung Bros, retrieved January 13, 2020
  22. ^ Frydenlund, Zach (May 24, 2014). "Premiere: Watch a Sneak Peek of the "Bad Rap" Documentary". Complex. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
  23. ^ "Jackie Joe movie 'Bad Rap' ... Life of Korean hip-hop musicians in documentary 재키 조 제작 영화 '배드 랩'…다큐로 보는 한인 힙합 뮤지션들의 삶 [LA중앙일보] 랩퍼 4인 활동과 고민에 초점 장편 완성 위한 후원 기다려". Korea Daily (in Korean). LA Joongang Daily. May 23, 2014. Archived from the original on May 31, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
  24. ^ Ting, Jasmine. "Awkwafina Announces New EP, 'In Fina We Trust'". Paper. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  25. ^ Stedman, Alex (October 1, 2014). "Q&A: Girl Code Creator Ryan Ling on Season 3, Social Media and New Comedians". Variety.
  26. ^ "5 Things You Should Know About 'Ocean's 8' Star Awkwafina". Billboard. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  27. ^ "Judy McGrath's Astronauts Wanted Strikes Exclusive Content Deal With Go90 (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 13, 2020.
  28. ^ Spangler, Todd (October 3, 2016). "Go90 Reups Awkwafina's 'Tawk' for Seasons 4 and 5, But Is Verizon's Service Struggling to Win Fans?". Variety. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  29. ^ "Rapper Awkwafina Joins 'Neighbors' Sequel". NBC News. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  30. ^ Lincoln, Ross A. "Indie Comedy 'Dude' Rounds Out Lead Cast With Trio Of Actresses". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 14, 2016.
  31. ^ "'Crazy Rich Asians' Adds Awkwafina". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  32. ^ "Hulu's Future Man is fun but doesn't level up: EW review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 20, 2017.
  33. ^ Lee, Cliff (August 22, 2018). "'The summer of Awkwafina': The Crazy Rich Asians star on hosting the MMVAs". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  34. ^ "SNL Season 44 Episode 02 - Awkwafina". NBC. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  35. ^ Erbland, Kate (February 21, 2019). "A24 Seeks Summer Box Office with Release Dates for 'The Farewell' and 'Last Black Man'". IndieWire. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  36. ^ "Golden Globes 2020: The Complete Nominations List". Variety. December 9, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  37. ^ Aridi, Sara (January 5, 2020). "Golden Globe Winners 2020: The Complete List". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  38. ^ "Awkwafina makes Golden Globes history". CNN. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
  39. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 3, 2019). "Awkwafina Joins Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart in 'Jumanji' Sequel". Variety. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  40. ^ "Jumanji: The Next Level". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  41. ^ "Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  42. ^ "Marvel reveals new details about 'Shang-Chi' movie". Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  43. ^ a b Goldbaum, Christina (January 16, 2020). "Awkwafina's Latest Role: Subway Announcer. New Yorkers Have Thoughts". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  44. ^ Makalintal, Bettina (January 24, 2020). "Awkwafina's Past Makes Her a Complicated Icon of Asian American Representation". Vice. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  45. ^ Jackson, Lauren Michele (August 24, 2018). "Who Really Owns the 'Blaccent'?". Vulture. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  46. ^ a b Bergado, Gabe. "Awkwafina Isn't Here for Hollywood's Tired Excuses". Teen Vogue. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  47. ^ "Awkwafina Joins the "Now Generation" for Gap Logo Remix Campaign". V Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  48. ^ "Awkwafina's Guide Book Shows the New York City You've Never Seen". NBC. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  49. ^ "Awkwafina, Dan Levy to Keynote Santa Monica Food, Music and Tech Fest". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  50. ^ "Shows A-Z - Girl Code Live on MTV".
  51. ^ "Unforgettable Female Breakout of the Year: Awkwafina". Kore Asian Media. November 16, 2017. Archived from the original on April 3, 2018. Retrieved April 3, 2018.

External links[edit]