For Variety’s latest issue, we asked Anne Hathaway to write a tribute to Awkwafina, one of 50 people to make our New Power of New York list. Here’s why Awkwafina, the breakout star from “Ocean’s Eight” and “Crazy Rich Asians,” represents a new generation of movers and shakers that capture the best of Manhattan. For the full list, click here.
Nora Lum — aka Awkwafina — is like that magical place that opens on your corner which you stumble upon one day, that place that catches you off guard and takes your breath away by how refreshing, humble, original, authentic and just awesome it is, at how obviously excellent and delightful in its one-of-a-kindness, at how of-the-moment and timeless, how it seemed to come out of nowhere (but the backstory is incredible) … and you just know its anonymity will be short-lived. And indeed, within a very short amount of time, everyone sees what you were lucky enough to see early on, the spot blows up, everyone loves what is being served and everyone keeps coming back for more.
Nora Lum is a queen from Queens. She shows up for her friends. She plays the trumpet. She’s an incredible listener, the kind who does it from her soul. Her comedy is inclusive, not competitive. She keeps it real. I have no idea if she is fearless, but she is courageous, which is 1,000% more important. She does that thing where she is all of herself and so gives everyone around her permission to be all of themselves too.
It’s a joy to watch amazing, big, needle-moving things happen to crazy kind, funny, talented people. Nora is not just one thing (just like New York), and she’s still discovering her powers, which I have reason to believe are limitless (just like New York). I just hope wherever her tremendous specialness takes her, that she always returns my texts … much the way one hopes you will still get a reservation at the (as she would say) lit corner spot before it franchises ’cause, you know, you were there first. …
Anne Hathaway is an actress and U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador.