Awkwafina at the 2023 Asia Society Southern California Annual Gala

Awkwafina encourages “distressed” teenagers to “watch independent films” to find themselves

Awkwafina is a champion of independent cinema from Queens.

The “Nora From Queens” co-creator and star acknowledged the impact of independent films on her teenage years, recalling her coming of age as an Asian-American woman who forged a diverse cultural identity based on pop culture influences .

“I first went to Asia Society when I was in high school. My father was a huge believer and we always went to shows and talks together. She has been an asset to us Ramones and Joan Didion and Jay-Z loving Asian Americans growing up to learn more about our cultural identities,” Awkwafina said during the 2023 Asia Society Southern California Gala (via Variety). “And I think it’s that kind of self-motivation that nurtures and nurtures our identities as Asian people, that’s where the cultural vision comes from.”

He continued, “I want to encourage all of you today — in case you’re the parent of angsty teens trying to figure themselves out, I want you to encourage them to love things, to watch independent films, to seek out their favorite auteurs, and to exist in the world only in one’s own space”.

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The star of the 2019 indie coming-of-age film ‘The Farewell’ added that young Asian Americans “will achieve more exorbitant things than we’re shown by being ourselves, asking questions of the world and demanding answers from the world.”

Awkwafina previously told IndieWire’s Kate Erbland that casting her as an Asian-American actress is part of a “forward-thinking” approach from Hollywood.

“I think if I get cast in a production, that already means the production is forward-thinking,” said the “Ocean’s 8” actress. “Hiring me is always a risk, a bit. There will always be roles that you need to be in (a certain ethnicity), like if it’s relevant to being Asian, it’s relevant to the culture. There are also roles that, when you read a script, “Wow, I just can’t play that role because she says she’s not Asian.” Now we’re entering a time where you can read into a role that may not even have a gender. I don’t think it’s a deception tool, I think it’s a kind of tool, let’s all see.