American musician and actor Awkwafina debuted with sly rap tracks that tackled racial identity and sexuality with boldly comedic perspective before expanding her reach into Hollywood. Born Nora Lum to Chinese and Korean immigrant parents in Forest Hills, Queens, her first taste of musician life came in the form of the trumpet. She also received classical and jazz training, later delving into hip-hop as a teenager. Concentrating on school, she majored in journalism and women's studies in college, even studying Mandarin in Beijing for a stint. It wasn't until after graduating that she shifted her focus to music. In 2012, her track "My Vag" -- a response to Mickey Avalon's "My Dick" -- found viral success on the Internet, eventually landing on her debut LP, Yellow Ranger, in 2014. The album featured other viral hits like the body-positive "Queef" and winking hometown tour "NYC Bitche$." The latter track connected directly into another venture, Awkwafina's NYC, a travel guide published in 2015. With musician and author on her résumé, she set her sights on a third endeavor: actor. In addition to early shows like Girl Code and Tawk, she was also featured in movies like Neighbors 2, Storks, and Bad Rap. In 2018, she landed breakthrough roles in a handful of high-profile films like Dude, Ocean's 8, and Crazy Rich Asians. That June, she issued the EP In Fina We Trust.
by Neil Z. Yeung