If you watch award shows, you may have caught the 2020 Golden Globes January 5, 2020. If you did, history was made in the “Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical” category!
Actress and rapper Awkwafina (Nora Lum) won the Golden Globe in the category for her portrayal of Billi Wang in the film The Farewell. The Farewell, which is directed by Lulu Wang, is about a Chinese-American family that chooses to keep a terminal diagnosis from Billi’s grandmother, Nai Nai, who is based in China.
“I’d like to dedicate this to my dad, Wally. I told you I’d get a job, Dad,” Awkwafina said during her acceptance speech. “To my grandma, my best friend, the woman who raised me. And to my mother, Tia, who I always hope is watching from somewhere above, and I hope that she’s watching now.”
Awkwafina is the first woman of Asian descent to win the award in this category; she’s also the second woman of Asian descent to be nominated in this category. In 2019, Constance Wu, who starred in Crazy Rich Asians with Awkwafina, was nominated for the award but ultimately lost to Olivia Coleman for her role in The Favourite.
This year’s nominees in the “Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical” category included Ana de Armas (Knives Out), Cate Blanchett (Where’d You Go, Bernadette), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), and Emma Thompson (Late Night).
Awkwafina’s win puts her in great company with other actors and actresses of Asian descent to win at the Golden Globes:
- Sandra Oh: In 2019, Oh won the award for “Lead Actress in a TV Series” for her role on Killing Eve. Oh became the first actress of Asian descent to win multiple Golden Globes. In 2006, Oh won the “Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries, or Motion Picture for TV” award for her role as Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy. She has also earned five Emmy nominations for the same role.
- Yoko Shimada: In 1981, Shimada, who is of Japanese descent, won the “Lead Actress in a TV Series” award for her role in Shogun.
- Ben Kingsley: Kingsley, who is British-Indian, won two Golden Globes in 1983 for his role in Gandhi. He scored the awards for “Best New Actor” and “Best Lead Actor in a Drama.”
- Haing S. Ngor: Ngor, who is Cambodian, won the “Best Supporting Actor” role for The Killing Fields.
- Aziz Ansari: The Indian-American actor won the “Best Lead Actor in a Comedy or Musical” award in 2018 for his work in Master of None.
Awkwafina’s selection is another step in the right direction for Hollywood and awards shows that often do not celebrate the talents of minority actors, actresses, musicians, and directors. Her historic win and her inclusion in a small number of other talents of Asian descent will hopefully inspire other Asians and minorities to dream big.
You can catch Awkwafina in the upcoming Comedy Central series, Nora from Queens, starting January 22.