Since gaining wider recognition for her roles in Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, rapper-turned-actress Awkwafina has been no stranger to controversy. While some have applauded her for breaking Hollywood stereotypes, others have criticized her for appropriating Asian culture. Here is a list of some of the most talked-about Awkwafina controversies.
1. Awkwafina Addresses Blaccent, AAVE and Cultural Appropriation Criticisms
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In an interview with Hot 97’s Nessa, Awkwafina addressed the controversy surrounding her vernacular and practices. “I never was trying to mock, belittle or be unkind by using AAVE,” she said.
2. Awkwafina Dropped from 2018 New Year’s Eve NBC Performance After Being Criticized for Blackface in 2012 Music Video
The Asian-American rapper was dropped from NBC’s A Toast to 2018! after critics targeted a music video that surfaced of her wearing blackface makeup back in 2012. Critics drew attention to the fact that it took five years for anyone at NBC to take notice of the issue and find it problematic enough to drop her from the show.
3. Awkwafina Admits She’s ‘Chasing’ Mainstream Success But Feels ‘Guilty as F**k’ for Doing So
In an interview with The New Yorker, Awkwafina stated her concern over the criticism she would receive from those who supported her early career as a rapper, and how it might affect her future as a mainstream actor. “I feel guilty as f**k,” she said. “But I also worry that if I don’t do this, then someone else will.”
4. Awkwafina Sued by Former Management Company over Financial Mismanagement Allegations
Awkwafina was sued by former management company Wilder Entertainment due to allegations of financial mismanagement. Wilder Entertainment claims that they spent over $1 million on funding Awkwafina’s first studio album, and went unpaid for their services.
5. Awkwafina Reveals She Was Sexually Harassed Two Years Ago at Her Concert
During an interview with Howard Stern, the rapper revealed that she was sexually harassed by a fan two years ago while performing. She said that during her set at a college show, she noticed someone mast**bating in front of her, so she turned to security to have him removed from the venue. Security eventually escorted the male out of the auditorium, but only after he finished pleasuring himself right next to Lum on stage.
6. York Fashion Week Event Organizers Approached Awkwafina to Perform ‘My Vag’ for Them, Was Offered $1,000
After watching a music video by fellow rapper Cupcakke which features the lyric, “And I’m like bitch, my vag fat/Yeah it’s big, yeah I know it’s big,” York Fashion Week organizers approached Hadid about performing the track. Hadid initially agreed to perform but after she heard they were only offering her $1,000 for the performance, she turned down the offer saying that artists should be paid fairly. The event was canceled after multiple designers pulled out of participating.
7. Awkwafina Comments on Louis C.K.’s Return to Comedy After Sexual Harassment Scandal
Comedian and actress Awkwafina expressed her disappointment in Louis C.K.’s sudden return to stand-up comedy, after he suffered career setbacks following several allegations of sexual misconduct. “When you’re ready to do it again, we’ll be here,” she said.
Overall, Awkwafina has been no stranger to controversy. While some have lauded her for breaking Hollywood stereotypes, others have accused her of appropriating Asian culture. She has responded to these criticisms in various interviews, but the most recent one addressing AAVE and cultural appropriation has received the most backlash.
Winda joined Kakkean as a writer in June 2022. She covers celebrity news and entertainment. Winda started her journalism back in senior high school when she joined the school's journalism competition. After graduating from senior high school, she took journalism study at Universitas Multimedia Nusantara and started to work in PonTV.