Awkwafina is the 2020 Golden Globe winner for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
She is the first Asian woman to win in that category.
The rapper and actor, whose real name is Nora Lum, won the award for her role in “The Farewell,” written and directed by Lulu Wang.
During her acceptance speech at the 77th annual awards ceremony Sunday night, Awkwafina thanked Wang, among a number of people, calling her an “incredible director.”
“You gave me this chance, the chance of a lifetime, and you’ve taught me so much,” she said. “Just filming this story, being with you, is incredible.”
Awkwafina dedicated her award to her father, her grandmother and her late mother.
“The Farewell” centers on Awkwafina’s character, Billi, who was raised in the U.S. and returns to her birthplace of Changchun, China, to spend time with her dying grandmother.
This was Awkwafina’s first Golden Globe nomination. “The Farewell” also received a nom for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language.
“This week has been so surreal,” the actor/rapper wrote in an Instagram post celebrating the nomination last month. “Incredibly honored to wake up to the news this morning... Thank you so much HFPA for this nomination and for recognizing @thefarewell. Can’t believe I am nominated alongside such insanely talented women.”
Prior to Awkwafina, only a few actors of Asian descent had been nominated in the lead actress musical/comedy movie category. Most recently, Constance Wu was nominated in the same category for “Crazy Rich Asians” last year.
In 2017, Hailee Steinfeld, who has Filipino roots, scored a nomination for her role in “The Edge of Seventeen.” Yvonne Elliman was nominated in 1974 for “Jesus Christ Superstar.” In 1962, Miyoshi Umeki received a nomination for “Flower Drum Song,” and in 1957 Machiko Kyo was nominated for “The Teahouse of the August Moon.”
Awkwafina, whose father is Chinese American and whose late mother was South Korean, told the Los Angeles Times in December that Wu’s Golden Globe nomination last year was “very inspiring to see.”
“I think all of that, Constance’s nomination, Sandra Oh’s win, it all tied into this larger reality that there hasn’t really been a lot,” she said. “And also on the brighter side, that it’s changing.”
Oh, who co-hosted the 2019 Golden Globes, also took home the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama that year.
Awkwafina told the Times that she watched the Golden Globes “every year” growing up, and that “if I would have seen someone like me up there it would have been different.”