“I needed to do this movie”: Awkwafina on her star-making role in The Farewell
From an early age, rapper and actress Nora Lum — who goes by Awkwafina professionally — knew what it was like to experience grief and loss. Her mother, who was a South Korean immigrant, died when Nora was 4. The Queens native was subsequently raised mostly by her Chinese American father and his mother, her paternal grandmother. Through that relationship in particular, she also learned how precious a grandmother can be.
Which is probably part of why Lum is so natural as Billi in The Farewell, her first dramatic role and one that has been highly lauded as a breakout since the film’s Sundance premiere in January. She’s been in successful movies before; last summer, she stole the show in Ocean’s 8and Crazy Rich Asians. But playing Billi, a character based on writer and director Lulu Wang, required a whole different set of skills.