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Who What Wear's September cover star Awkwafina aka Nora Lum has pretty much done it all. She has rapped; has acted in comedies, dramas, and animated films; starred in a Gucci campaign; and won a Golden Globe. Now, she's about to enter the action genre with her role in Marvel's Shang-Chi.
It's a movie that's highly anticipated for many reasons. One, it's a Marvel movie, duh. And two, it's the first one featuring an Asian superhero as the lead. Lum stars as Katy, a "hotel valet" and friend of Shang-Chi (played by Simu Liu).
Courtesy of Marvel Studios
Lum couldn't give any plot details away when we caught up with her via Zoom while she was in London, but she did say she was inspired by director Destin Daniel Cretton's vision for the film, which she described as "a new take on an existing comic book character." Although plot points are scarce, I think it's safe to assume from the trailers that viewers will be charmed by Lum's character, who seems to be a comedic relief for the heavy action stuff.
Lum couldn't reveal too much about Shang-Chi, but she did share some details about the second season of her Comedy Central show, Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens. The series is based on her life—Lum grew up in Queens, New York, and was raised by her father and grandmother. Not only is it laugh-out-loud hilarious, but it also has a stellar supporting cast. Law and Order and Jurassic Park star BD Wong plays her father, Orange Is the New Black's Lori Tan Chinn plays her grandmother, and Saturday Night Live cast member Bowen Yang plays her cousin.
Courtesy of Comedy Central
"The first season, we were still trying to find a sense of identity and where the characters were going. I think Lori, BD, and Bowen have totally made a home in these characters and take them to directions that we never even anticipated. Season two explores things on a bit of a deeper and more different level," she says. "There's still the absurdity of the goofiness, the craziness, but there's territory that we go in that I never really thought we would. And BD directed an episode that's actually incredible. He did an amazing job. I think it's just a second evolution of these characters."
To many, the show can be seen as Lum's love letter to New York, her hometown. So in celebration of that and the latest season, we decided to play This or That: NYC Edition to get to know the city from Lum's point of view. Take a look at her answers below.
Favorite Place to Eat: "David's Taiwanese Gourmet."
Favorite Subway Line: "The R."
Favorite Touristy Thing: "Alice in Wonderland [sculpture in Central Park]."
Favorite Sports Team: "The Mets. C'mon, yeah."
Favorite Late-Night Snack: "The meat sticks in Flushing, Great NY Noodletown, Mahmoud's Corner."
Favorite Bar: "Fat Buddha."
Best Place for Karaoke: "MK is the best. I love MK."
Cab or Uber: "Depends. Sometimes, the cab, you can just hail one."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Check out our previous episode featuring stylist and designer Jason Rembert.