SNL’s lack of Asian representation has been going on for a long time, but on October 6th, Nora Lum, stage name Awkwafina, will be shaking up the sketch comedy show. The Queens raised actress, comedian, and hip hop artist rose to mainstream success with her performances in summer movies Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians.
SNL posted confirmation of her upcoming appearance on Twitter. Awkwafina excitedly retweeted her good news.
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) September 27, 2018
The last Asian-American woman to get a chance to perform a monologue and multiple sketches with the SNL cast was Lucy Liu in the year 2000.
One of Liu’s notable, positively received sketches was an impression of Caucasian celebrity Katherine Zeta Jones on Celebrity Jeopardy alongside the long-feuding pair of Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek and Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery.
The show has often utilized Asian staff members to play bit Asian roles, like production designer Akira Yoshimura’s acting as Star Trek‘s Hikaru Sulu. In other instances, a person of another ethnicity, usually white, will play an Asian character in Yellowface. Amy Poehler, for instance, has performed as Kim Jong-il.
Previous Asian hosts include Jackie Chan in 2000, Aziz Ansari in 2017 and Kumail Nanjiani in 2017. Fred Armisen and Bruno Mars, who have partial Asian lineage, have also hosted in the past. Aziz Ansari was the very first person of South Asian descent to host.
That’s not a lot of Asian people for a historic show that has been on for 44 seasons.
Armisen and Iranian-American Nasim Pedrad are a few of the more additions to the cast, but a lot of Asian critics still do not feel that enough has been done to court Asian talent.
In an interview with the Huffington Post last year, Awkwafina spoke of the changing tide for Asians in Hollywood, declaring ““With all the things that are happening, this is a woke time, and whether Hollywood likes it or not, they’re going to have to change things up!”
Via Huffington Post