Los Angeles, 13 July, 2019: “The Farewell” is Awkwafina’s first major role but the rapper-actor believes hiring her is still a big gamble for Hollywood studios despite the massive success of “Crazy Rich Asians”.
Directed by Lulu Wang, “The Farewell” premiered at Sundance this past January to critical acclaim.
In the film, Awkwafina plays Billi whose family returns to China on the pretext of a wedding to say goodbye to their matriarch, who has just few weeks to live but does not know about her fate.
“I think that if I am cast in a production, already that means that production is kind of forward-thinking. Hiring me is always a risk, a little bit,” Awkwafina told IndieWire
The rapper, who does not follow the notions of what a big Hollywood star should look like, is a first generation American from Queens and hopes to use her popularity to help other non-white talent.
She has slowly build a memorable career, including a supporting role in “Crazy Rich Asians”, which made nearly USD 175 million domestically on a USD 30 million budget.
The film was lauded for being the first Hollywood movie to have an all Asian cast even though author Kevin Kwan was encouraged to whitewash the leading lady role.
“People have to understand that what Crazy Rich Asians’ showed is that there is an audience where you wouldn’t expect there to be, Awkwafina said.
“When you give something that you think doesn’t sell because it doesn’t exist or whatever, when you finally give it to an audience, a hungry audience, they will show up,” she added.
Awkwafina said there is this myth that people of colour, especially women, don’t want to be in show business.
“It’s total bulls**t, they’re out there. That’s what I want to do. People ask me if I want directing as the next frontier, and my answer to that is, I don’t want to steal someone’s job who really worked for it and who I can help (in other ways),” she said.
The actor’s upcoming roles include Netflix’s “Dark Crystal” series, “Jumanji: The Next Level” and Tate Taylor’s dramedy “Breaking News in Yuba County.”
She says she is still getting used to the opportunities coming her way.
“I’m still getting used to being on a rollercoaster that’s still going. I don’t know how much I can dictate about my future, but I do know that if I gain a platform at any point, I want to help the next generation. It doesn’t end here. It has to keep going on, she said.