Awkwafina gets candid about her mother’s early passing.
Awkwafina is known as a joyous soul who brings great laughs to all the comedic films she’s starred in so far. The 31-year-old recently opened up to PEOPLE about just why she’s always wanted to make people laugh, something that began from an early age. When Awkwafina was just four-years-old her mother passed from pulmonary hypertension where she was then raised by her father and grandmother.
“My earliest memories of my mom are from when she was already sick,” Awkwafina, born Nora Lum, wrote in an open letter for the publication. “I remember her a lot through her food. She used to feed me a lot of Korean food, and I remember her really caring about that, caring about what I brought to lunch in my lunch box.”
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It’s safe to say Awkwafina’s humour and quirkiness are in part due to her grandmother. “I remember seeing my grandma as someone who was saving me,” she added. “She was my best friend at a young age. She’s snarky; she enjoys a good joke. Nothing was ever too dirty for her.”
Awkwafina further noted how her family members would come up to her and cry, something she didn’t like. “So I tried to do this sideshow of, ‘Hey, let me make you laugh,’” she wrote. “I needed people to feel joy. That’s who all this began. I was the class clown all the way.”
“I think all the time, what would I have been doing if my mom hadn’t passed? I don’t think I’d be here, because I think that I had to face a certain level of trauma to be so joyously self-deprecating and so free.”
Awkwafina is set to voice Scuttle in the upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.