SeeHer Story Features Rapper-Turned-Actress Awkwafina in Episode 24
In just a few years, Awkwafina launched herself from YouTube rapper to award-winning actress, quickly making herself a household name around the world.
The rapper, actress, and role model has never been afraid to be unapologetically herself and continues to break barriers as an Asian American woman in the entertainment industry, which is why SeeHer Story wants to celebrate the star this week.
Katie Couric Media and PEOPLE partnered to create the second season of SeeHer Story, a weekly digital video series produced to celebrate various female trailblazers from the past 100 years to today.
Born Nora Lum, the actress was raised by her father and grandmother in Forest Hills, Queens after losing her mother when she was just four.
She found a love for performing at an early age, initially playing the trumpet as a way to channel her grief.
Not long after, she discovered her true passion was making people laugh.
"I had a very intensive desire to make people laugh from as early as four years old," she said in a previous interview.
While the star knew she was funny, she didn't have the confidence to step into the spotlight. So at age 15, Awkwafina was born.
Under her new name, Awkwafina began writing and performing funny rap music and went viral in 2012 with a song called "My Vag."
While the song lost Awkwafina her job in book publicity, it launched her career into stardom.
In 2014, Awkwafina released her first hip-hop album, Yellow Ranger.
"Comedy always played a really big role in what I did, in my music, and I always knew that was a part of it and acting tapped into that in a different way," she said in an early interview.
Acting roles for the star shortly followed. In 2018, she landed the scene-stealing role of Peik Lin in Crazy Rich Asians, the first U.S. blockbuster featuring an all Asian cast.
The following year, her performance in The Farewell made her the first person of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe in any lead actress film category.
Now the actress is focused on the small-screen: she’s the co-creator, executive producer, writer, and star of her own semi-autobiographical TV show, titled Nora From Queens.
Awkwafina has also used her platform to advocate for more representation in the media and frequently pays tribute to all the women who paved the way for her.
"Standing here tonight was a dream I never thought would come true," she said while hosting Saturday Night Live in October 2018. "So, thank you, Lucy [Liu], for opening the door."
SeeHer Story will be a regular feature in PEOPLE’s print edition and the weekday morning newsletter Wake-Up Call with Katie Couric.
"SeeHer Story celebrates the important contributions of bold women from the past 100 years who have changed our country forever,” said Couric in a statement. “We hope recognizing them and telling their stories will not only give them their due but will also inspire the next generation of leaders.”
She added, “Together with Meredith and PEOPLE, I’m so excited to bring back a second season of stories of women whose names you may know — and put those whose achievements are not as well-known — front and center so we can celebrate them as well.”
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