Awkwafina Speaks at Pacific
by Malavika Raj
Hailing from New York, rapper and actress Awkwafina made a highly anticipated appearance as part of the newly instated ASuop Speaker Series. She was the first speaker in the series that aims to “bring a diverse array of influential speakers to campus who will provide insight and awareness on critical topics and inspire the students and Pacific community in their endeavors.”
Awkwafina, born Nora Lum, first found success through social media. Born to a Chinese father and South Korean mother, she was raised in Forest Park, Queens and attended SUNY Albany.
Lum was able to build a following after gaining popularity after releasing a song called “My Vag” on Youtube. Her career as an actress took off, and she was able to land roles in prominent movies such as Oceans 8 and the hit rom-com Crazy Rich Asians, which featured an all Asian-American cast.
Lum addressed questions about how her family felt about choosing a non-traditional career path. “My dad wanted me to be a meat inspector or a sonogram technician, or an air traffic controller. I think he really just wanted me to be stable,” Lum said to the audience. “I strayed off the path when I was about 25. I told my dad I was going to make videos on the internet.”
Lum also detailed the difficulties about pursuing a creative career without financial security. “When you’re growing up and you’re not super rich, anything you do creative really is a privilege. Especially with the ability to do it full time.”
Additionally, Lum also touched on her relationship with music, and how it helped launch her career. As a teenager, she excelled on the trumpet and attended the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. “I had some issues with music growing up and making it into academics,” she said. “It wasn’t until I got into music school and I was supposed to be playing 4-5 periods a day that I realized I really didn’t like it. The initial connection was lost. It wasn’t until I started producing my own beats did I really regain that relationship,” she added.
Lum also spoke about her college career at S.U.N.Y Albany. She majored in Journalism and minored in both Gender Studies and East Asian Studies. As for her decision to pursue Journalism instead of Creative Writing, Lum said that “journalism was a way to make creative writing more legit.”
Lum also spoke about how her education impacted her songwriting. “Women studies was really important to me. It taught me so much about so many other things. It is a big part of Awkwafina. Her message has always been to reach women and bring up things that women studies taught me.”
No one knows who the next ASuop speaker will be. But with the success of the first one, students will definitely want to catch the next one.
Jo Ann Kirby
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