Awkwafina is an indie filmmaking champion from Queens.
The “Nora From Queens” co-creator and star acknowledged the impact of indie films on her adolescence, recalling her own coming-of-age as an Asian-American woman forging a diverse cultural identity based on pop culture influences.
“I first went to the Asia Society when I was in high school. My dad was an avid supporter and we’d always go to shows and talks there together. It was a resource for us Ramones, Joan Didion, and Jay-Z-loving Asian Americans growing up to learn more about our own cultural identities,” Awkwafina said during the 2023 Asia Society Southern California Gala (via Variety). “And I think that it’s that kind of self-motivation to curate and cultivate our identities as Asian people, is where cultural vision is born.”
She continued, “I want to encourage all of you today — in the case that you are the parents of angsty teenagers trying to figure themselves out, I want you to encourage them to love things, to watch indie movies, to seek out their favorite authors, and to exist in the world in uniquely their own space.”
The star of 2019 indie coming-of-age film “The Farewell” added that young Asian Americans will “achieve things more exorbitant than we are shown by being themselves, asking the world, questions and demanding answers from the world.”
Awkwafina previously told IndieWire’s Kate Erbland that hiring her as an Asian-American actress is part of a “forward-thinking” approach from Hollywood.
“I think that if I am cast in a production, already that means that production is kind of forward-thinking,” the “Ocean’s 8” actress said. “Hiring me is always a risk, a little bit. There will always be roles where you need to be [a certain ethnicity], like it’s relevant to being Asian, it’s relevant to the culture. There are also roles that, when you’re reading a script, ‘Wow, I really can’t be that role because it says that she’s not Asian.’ Now we’re getting into a time where you can read a role that may not even have a gender. I don’t think that that’s a tool of trickery, I think it’s a tool of like, let’s see everyone.”