"Representation starts both in front of and behind the camera"
Awkwafina has discussed her experience working on Crazy Rich Asians and the importance of representation.
When asked what it was like to work with an entirely Asian cast, Awkwafina replied, “it was amazing, and honestly, we became a family in a way I’ve never really experienced on a set before.”
The ‘My Vag’ singer said she was excited for the film, even if she was not in it. “From the moment the film was announced, I was just excited to see the movie come to fruition, whether or not I could be in it. I knew it would be impactful for my community.”
Reflecting on her youth, Awkwafina said Margaret Cho was a big inspiration for her. “ The first time I saw Margaret Cho on Comedy Central, she was like a unicorn,” Awkwafina said. “She was an Asian woman who had a perfect American accent, something I wasn’t used to seeing. And she was so funny and unashamed and bold. I remember thinking, “That is what I want to be.” Just seeing her made it seem slightly more possible.”
The 29-year-old Asian American also said Lucy Liu and Michelle Yeoh were big inspirations too and highlighted the importance of representation.“And then Lucy Liu in “Charlie’s Angels” and Michelle Yeoh in her action movies. When you don’t have representation growing up, you don’t know how to materialize your dreams. You don’t even know it’s possible.”
Awkwafina also revealed that most of her roles were not written as Asian characters. “Some parts were written with me in mind, but outside of “Crazy Rich Asians,” I think almost all of them weren’t specifically Asian,” she said. “At least that’s what I was told.”
Looking forward, Awkwafina believes that the industry is adapting to the demand for representation on screen. “Hollywood is changing at a rapid pace in terms of the stories that are being told and the people being put in leading roles and the people writing and directing movies,” she said. “It really takes discussions about whitewashing to realize America is not one color. It’s a giant melting pot, and there are so many ways people can relate to movies, to music.”
“I think Hollywood is realizing they can reflect that. And at the box office, the numbers are very impactful. They’re trying, and now that they know, they’re taking chances. I’m very optimistic about the changes to come.”
Crazy Rich Asians is out now in cinemas. Click here to read Resonate writer Joie Ha’s review of the film.