"There's always another journey that takes place when you're Asian American and you return to China"
The 30-year-old actress’s filming commitments flew her across the world to Singapore, Malaysia and China.
Discussing filming The Farewell, the Asian American described her experience in China. “It was awesome,” she said. “We filmed in Changchun, which is where [director Lulu Wang’s] family is from, so we could do things like have the movie wedding in the same venue as the actual wedding. It made everything feel real.”
Awkwafina, whose grandmother was also from China, expressed an importance for Chinese Americans to visit the homeland.
“And there’s always another journey that takes place when you’re Asian American and you return to China,” she said. “My grandma is from right near where Lulu’s grandma is from, so it was really cool to eat the same foods my grandma loves. I also got close with Lulu’s family. The movie surrounds this lie that is really hard to understand, but while you’re there, surrounded by love, you start to understand the reasoning behind it.”
Comparing her experience with Crazy Rich Asians, which was filmed in Singapore, Awkwafina said The Farewell required more researching.
“Crazy Rich Asians was like a giant sleepaway camp,” she said. “I love my castmates so much, and it was very momentous. And I fell in love with the culture of [Singapore]. With The Farewell, there was a lot of researching to really understand who Billi was, and what she was going through. It’s always cool to travel and work, because you get very immersed in the country [you’re in] by default. You’re a fish out of water, in a good way.”
She went on to say that she did not enjoy being a tourist in Singapore for too long.
“You’ve got to find your balance,” she said. “For Crazy Rich Asians, as Peik Lin, I had some downtime. I like to go touristing, but I get sick of that quickly because it requires a lot of standing and walking. I mostly spent my downtime watching TV alone in the hotel room. I love just being somewhere else. There’s something comforting and addictive about foreign TV that you don’t understand, but it’s just, like, playing on a roll.”
In related news, Korean-American rapper Jon Park was recently announced to play a recurring character in the Awkwafina’s Comedy Central television series, Awkwafina.