Awkwafina makes history as first woman of Asian descent to win Golden Globe for lead actress in a comedy

Awkwafina at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Awkwafina has made history at the 2020 Golden Globes.

On Sunday, “The Farewell” actress became the first woman of Asian descent to win the award for lead actress in a movie comedy/musical.

“I actually just heard that fact, and it was pretty mind-blowing,” Awkwafina said backstage of the historic nature of her win. “It feels incredible, but I think there’s also this other feeling that you want there to be more. I hope this is just the beginning.”


Written and directed by Lulu Wang, “The Farewell” marked the dramatic lead debut for the actress, who was born Nora Lum. In the acclaimed film, Awkwafina plays Billi, an American woman whose family has chosen to keep the truth of a terminal diagnosis from her grandmother in China.

“I would never have expected something like this to happen, especially when we were filming,” Awkwafina told The Times after her nomination was announced last month. “We just wanted to tell the story. So to see that it’s getting recognition ... is really awesome.”

Follow along for live updates and behind-the-scenes happenings from the team of L.A. Times journalists inside and outside the event.

Jan. 5, 2020

Awkwafina is the second woman of Asian descent to be nominated in the category in two years. Last year, her “Crazy Rich Asians” costar Constance Wu was nominated for lead actress in a movie comedy/musical. (Olivia Colman won that year for her performance in “The Favourite”).

Sandra Oh had a historic win at the 2019 Golden Globes, taking home the award for lead actress in a TV drama for her work on “Killing Eve,” making her the first actor of Asian descent to win multiple Golden Globes (Oh was previously recognized in the TV supporting actress category for her work on “Grey’s Anatomy”).

The complete list of 2020 Golden Globes winners and nominees

Jan. 5, 2020

In her acceptance speech Sunday night, Awkwafina paid tribute to her family’s support.

“I’d like to dedicate this to my dad, Wally. I told you I’d get a job, Dad,” she said. “To my grandma, my best friend, the woman who raised me. And to my mother, Tia, who I always hope is watching from somewhere above, and I hope that she’s watching now.”

The other nominees for the award were Ana de Armas (“Knives Out”), Cate Blanchett (“Where’d You Go, Bernadette”), Beanie Feldstein (“Booksmart”) and Emma Thompson (“Late Night”).