A year ago we were talking about Awkwafina right before what would be the biggest summer and then the biggest year of her professional career up to that point. She was, undeniably, one of the breakout stars of 2018 with Ocean’s 8, Crazy Rich Asians, hosting the iHeartRadio MMVAs, hosting Saturday Night Live, hosting the Hollywood Film Awards, appearing at almost every major award show, and making a deal for her own series on Comedy Central. I might have left off some sh-t on the list – it’s a long list.
When I talked to Nora last year – I’m going to call her Nora because she said I could – I asked her about everything that was happening, all the work converging at the same time, the building blocks of her ascent. She told me she didn’t want it to be just one year, that that wasn’t the point, that 2018 should really just be part of the beginning, maybe the end point of the beginning. And she was right.
Awkwafina’s next project is a film called The Farewell, the second film by director Lulu Wang which premiered to rave reviews at Sundance in January. The Farewell opens on July 12 and a trailer was released earlier this week. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through this movie. This movie is why I haven’t cried in years. Because my heart was waiting for The Farewell, storing up 10 gallons of tears to be unleashed over the course of one film. Can you please just watch this and we can talk about it on the other side?
The Farewell started as a story Lulu told on This American Life back in 2016. If you’ve listened to that episode, you know it’s not just about a lie to protect a beloved family member, it’s also about culture and identity, it’s about how so many of us are a combination of the people who love us and the choices we make for ourselves – and how and when that balances changes, constantly. This is not just true of immigrants and their children, it is a universal experience, no matter where you’re from – which makes this film, centered around a Chinese family, specific AND universal, the common DNA of great storytelling.
In 2018, Awkwafina starred in a film by an Asian American director, Jon M Chu, that went on to become the highest grossing romantic comedy in a decade and won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Comedy and the National Board of Review Award for Best Ensemble. In 2019, she’s starring in a film by another Asian American director that some say, with the right momentum, could be an outside longshot contender during awards season.
So be ready. I’m going to be right up in your eyeballs, right up in your whole face, hyping The Farewell over the next few weeks. Who are we kidding? I’ll be on it for months, nagging you to see it and support it and support Lulu and Nora. As Angie Han wrote in Mashable, “The Farewell proves that Awkwafina’s amazing 2018 was no fluke”.
Have a great weekend!
Yours in gossip,