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Awkwafina first Asian woman to win Golden Globe for film
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Awkwafina makes history for Asian women with Golden Globes win

The Farewell actor won the award for best actress in a musical or comedy

Awkwafina’s Golden Globes win was a monumental moment of last night’s industry ceremony, becoming the first Asian person to win the award for best actress in a comedy or musical motion picture, for her role in dramedy The Farewell

The 31-year-old, who previously starred in Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, beat out competition including Cate Blanchett (Where’d You Go, Bernadette) and Emma Thompson (Late Night), in the musical or comedy category. 

In her acceptance speech, the first-time nominee joked, “if I fall upon hard times we can sell this, so that’s good”, before thanking her castmates, father, grandma, and late mother.

Until last year – when Constance Wu was nominated for her role in Crazy Rich Asians – no Asian woman had ever been up for best actress in a motion picture (musical or comedy), while the same year, Sandra Oh became the first woman of Asian descent to win best actress in a TV show, for Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Killing Eve.

Speaking to the press after accepting her award, Awkwafina acknowledged her historic win. “I just heard that fact and it was pretty mind blowing,” she said of being the first Asian actress to win lead in a film. “It feels incredible, but there’s also this other feeling that you want there to be more. I hope this is just the beginning.”

The actor also addressed the commonality of Asian Americans feeling like outsiders in both places. “I relate to that mentality a lot,” she said. “I think a lot of children of immigrants in this country do. We are raised to feel very American, but are told, ‘you don’t belong here’, and when you go back to where you ‘belong’, you also feel like a stranger there. It’s a constant feeling of being lost in translation, and I think that’s what really resonated with me with The Farewell.” 

Written and directed by Lulu Wang, The Farewell tells the story of a real-life incident in which Wang’s grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, but was kept oblivious to the news. It’s a film about culture clashes, detailing the divide between American and Chinese philosophies. Speaking to Dazed in May last year, Wang said: “Coming from an immigrant family, it’s very difficult to go find your voice, which requires a lot of failure. It requires a lot of exploration when your parents have made sacrifices, and you feel you have to live up to their sacrifices.”

Watch Awkwafina’s Golden Globes acceptance speech below.