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Golden Globes 2020: Awkwafina just made history as the first Asian Best Actress winner

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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With her starring role in Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, the comedian just became the first woman of Asian descent to win a Best Actress in a Motion Picture award at the ceremony.

Awkwafina fans might know her best as the no-holds-barred comedian who got her start on YouTube.

But in The Farewell, a heartbreaking film based on director Lulu Wang’s own family in China, Awkwafina turns in one of the most searing, human performances of the year. As Billi, the character loosely based on filmmaker Wang, Awkwafina is by turns both serious and silly, a woman torn between the two halves of her identity in the East and in the West.

If you haven’t seen the film yet, seek it out as soon as you can: Awkwafina’s performance is unforgettable. Just ask the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, who just awarded the comedian a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy.

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By taking home the trophy, Awkwafina made history. She just became the first woman of Asian descent to win an award in the category of film.

The Farewell review: an overwhelmingly honest look at family, love and grief

The Farewell was directed by Lulu Wang and stars Awkwafina.

“If I fall upon hard times, I can sell this, so that’s good,” Awkwafina joked. The actor then went on to thank her The Farewell co-star Zhao Shuzhen and director Wang in Mandarin. “You gave me this chance, the chance of a lifetime,” she added. “Just filming this story, being with you, is incredible.”

The actor also took the chance to praise her father Wally, a Chinese immigrant to New York, and her late mother Tia. “I’d like to dedicate this award to my dad, Wally,” Awkwafina said. “I told you I’d get a job, dad.”

Awkwafina is only the second woman of Asian descent to be nominated in the category of Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy at the Golden Globes. Her Crazy Rich Asians co-star Constance Wu was the first, when she was recognised for her performance in that film at the 2019 ceremony. At the same ceremony, Sandra Oh made history for being the first woman of Asian descent to win multiple awards, having picked up Golden Globes for her performances in Grey’s Anatomy and Killing Eve

Golden Globes 2020: Awkwafina just made history with her win.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times before the Golden Globes, Awkwafina said: “I would never have expected something like this to happen, especially when we were filming. We just wanted to tell the story. So to see that it’s getting recognition… is really awesome.”

Backstage at the Golden Globes, the star reflected on her historic win.

“It feels incredible, but there’s also this feeling that you want there to be more,” Awkwafina told reporters in the media room. “I hope this is just the beginning.” 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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