Star-Advertiser video by Cindy Ellen Russell / email@example.com
Awkwafina, the breakout star of 2018 with roles in two major feature films and the guest host spot on “Saturday Night Live,” came to Hawaii over the weekend to accept the Maverick Award from the Hawaii International Film Festival.
Born Nora Lum and raised in New York, Awkwafina started out as a reluctant rapper, making beats and songs in private because “I just never wanted anyone to hear it,” she said in a video interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Her 2014 video, “My Vag,” went viral, propelling her to roles on MTV, a book on New York City, and this year, appearances on “Ocean’s 8” with co-stars Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett and then the blockbuster “Crazy Rich Asians,” the first major movie starring an all-Asian cast in 25 years.
Lum recently moved to Los Angeles and is waiting for shooting to begin on the sequel to “Crazy Rich Asians.” Asked what she hoped would happen with her character Peik Lin, the hilarious gal-pal to protagonist Rachel, she said, “I don’t know, but she needs a man!”
Awkwafina’s appearance on “Saturday Night Live” will be rerun on Saturday.
HIFF also honored actor-turned-director Takumi Saito with a Maverick Award, and gave its PIC Trailblazer Award to New Zealader Heperi “Hepi” Mita.
In other news, HIFF announced several awards this weekend:
>> Made In Hawaii Feature Winner: “Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable,” directed by Aaron Lieber
>> Made In Hawaii Best Short: “Mauka to Makai,” directed by Jonah Okono and Alika Maikau
>> Best Overall Short Film: “May 14th,” directed by Boo Eunjoo
>> Kau Ka Hoku Filmmaker Award: Hao Wu for “The People’s Republic of Desire”
>> NETPAC winner: “Still Human” directed by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan.