“Along with that, it’s the feeling of being an outsider"
Speaking to SCMP, the 30-year-old actress said she hopes to inspire other Asian Americans with her work.
“I am not what you would think of when you think of a movie star. I don’t look like one. I don’t sound like one. I don’t act like one,” she said. “I want to show girls, young Asian-American girls, that you can be literally what you don’t see there and you can still do it. You have to open the door for the next generation.”
Reflecting on being an Asian American, the half Korean half Chinese American actress said she struggled to find a sense of belonging, which is probably shared with other immigrant families.
“I think that any ‘dash American’ in this country feels always like one foot in the door, one foot outside the door,” she said. “You never feel like you belong to one or the other.”
She went on to say that the identifying as Asian American has its problems too, as the term is far too broad. “The only thing that ties Asian-Americans together, because it’s such a broad category, is discrimination. Everyone feels that,” she said. “Along with that, it’s the feeling of being an outsider.”
The Farewell, overtook Avengers: Endgame’swhich box office per-theatre average, is based on writer-director Lulu Wang’s life experiences. Awkwafina stars as a Chinese American woman named Billi who returns to China to visit her grandmother who is suffering from cancer.
Billi clashes with her family who decide to keep her grandmother in the dark about her illness. Culture clashes and family are themes deeply explored in this touching tale.
Speaking about the film, Awkwafina said she “never thought a script like this could ever exist: one that was written by an Asian-American woman and directed by an Asian American woman. I’d just never seen it.”
Awkwafina added that the industry is changing to be more accommodating towards Asian American actors.
“I’m seeing scripts that have no descriptors of race, for small parts, for leads, for anything, or even sex, which is awesome,” she said. “I think the industry is moving toward a good spot where Asian people are seen now as people that can do other things.”