Awkwafina apparently has no regrets when it comes to her use of a blaccent to get ahead in her career.
While on a press tour for her upcoming movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Awkwafina was asked about her use of a blaccent that she adopted early in her career.
Speaking with Reuters, she danced around the topic and said,
“Um… You know, I’m open to the conversation. I think it really is something that I think is a little bit multi-faceted and layered, and so… yeah.”
— Reuters Showbiz (@ReutersShowbiz) September 10, 2021
This is actually quite similar to comments she made back in 2018 while on a press tour for Crazy Rich Asians. At the time, she said,
“I welcome that conversation because I think as an Asian American identity as a people, we’re still trying to figure out what that is. So I welcome the conversation.”
So, she’s “open to conversation” and yet never actually seems to want to have the conversation? Yeah, that’s not squirrelly at all.
She may claim that the issue is “multi-faceted” but for most people, the issue is straightforward.
On Twitter, many people made it emphatically clear that they thought she was in the wrong. Some of the responses included:
Awkwafina (hah!) is NOT BLACK. Even if you grew up around Black people (which she didn’t?! Right?!), you would not adopt a “blaccent” like she does. And her answer here is not about her background, upbringing or the people around her. SHE DID A BLACCENT FOR COMEDY REASONS ONLY.
— Ali Thee Emmy Nominee (@wtflanksteak) September 18, 2021
The fact that Awkwafina used her blaccent and minstrelsy to get put on then dropped the act and became Nora to be seen as a legitimate actress/performer pisses me off to no end. Black folks are a stepping stone to these people and it’s sickening
— Tanesha, RN 👩🏾⚕️🩺💉🏥 (@ERnurse86) September 13, 2021
awkwafina blaccent so strong they got her trending under “hip hop”,
Don’t worry, she only used black culture for profit…after profiting highly that accent has since vanished. Didn’t know that’s how it worked.
— 🅽🅸🅲🅾 | MrNotThatFamous (@Mrnotthatfamous) September 18, 2021
this is half the reason we hate awkwafina right here
ms girl is trending in hip hop, but all the tweets are about her acting.
it’s her blaccent, her signature mockery of black culture that links her to hip hop in this algorithm, and that’s disgusting pic.twitter.com/vKHjirDmkO
— minnie quiperton ✨🌷 (@nonchalantnyny) September 11, 2021
One of the main issues that angered folks was the was she used a blaccent and put on a minstrel-esque performance of Black culture to make money and get ahead in her career, only to ditch it when she made it into Hollywood’s inner circle.
She relied on Black stereotypes in her comedy, music, and even in her role in the 2018 film Crazy Rich Asians where she essentially played the “sassy Black best friend.”
It wasn’t until her 2019 film The Farewell that she finally dropped the act.
She’s completely changed her style, opting for blazers and suits instead of her previous beanies and t-shirts. She poses with gang signs choosing instead more “demure” stances. She’s completely changed the way she speaks and has even changed her mannerisms.
The most problematic nature of this whole situation is how she used these cultural thefts to get ahead in the world while Black actors who are deemed “too Black” or “ghetto” are shut out of Hollywood. They’re relegated to playing roles as criminals and drug dealers.
And while Awkwafina can drop the blaccent when it suits her needs, Black actors can’t suddenly stop being Black.
Awkwafina’s refusal to take accountability for her actions, or even admit that her actions were problematic proves just how willfully ignorant she is. Her career was built on Black culture and she refuses to give credit. She should be ashamed of herself.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and The Challenge. When she’s not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her taking an absurd amount of photos of her tuxedo cat Tom.