- 14 Jun 18
Actress, comedienne and YouTube phenomenon about her role in the counterpart to the famous 'Oceans' 11-13 trilogy.
New York-born rapper, comedienne, YouTube sensation and actress Nora Lum, aka Awkwafina, has been making waves ever since her 2013 boast-and-roast track 'My Vag' went viral, courtesy of lyrics like, "My vag like a operatic ballad / Your vag like Grandpa's cabbage... My vag, like tastin' heaven / Your vag manages a 7-Eleven".
Love it or hate it, you couldn't ignore it.
And now the 29-year-old is starring alongside Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna and Mindy Kaling in one of the biggest films of the summer, Gary Ross' all-female heist comedy, Ocean's 8. In this spin-off from Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's trilogy, a hastily assembled group of criminals plan to rob the Met Gala in New York.
Awkwafina plays pickpocket Constance, and despite roles in Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising, Dude, and an upcoming part in Crazy Rich Asians, she was utterly gobsmacked to find herself cast in this all-female reboot.
"It's about time we had a big film starring a team of women," she enthuses.
"First of all, when my dad found out I was going to be in Ocean's 8, he freaked out. At first, he didn't even believe me! We were both fans of Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's 11, which I first saw when I was 12. Then, I watched the 1960 version starring Frank Sinatra, and that was pretty cool too. I was really excited to be part of such an amazing franchise."
Each of the characters has their own unique skills: Bullock plays the mastermind: Kaling is a jewellery designer who can make perfect dupes for the real diamond versions; and Rihanna is the tech wiz. But Awkwafina's Constance is a little bit different.
"You've seen pickpockets and sleight-of-hand artists before, but you've never seen a Constance.
She's from the streets. This is what she does; it's her hustle. Constance has this air of mystery. She's from Queens, as am I, and she's very much a part of this New York landscape we created."
Awkwafina loved her character and was determined to learn some real tricks to make her performance more authentic.
"I worked with a great magician who taught me tricks and sleight of hand. He even told me some of the secrets behind his magic - which I now wish he'd kept to himself, because I love magic and don't want to know what's behind it."
Despite working with such high-profile actresses, Awkwafina says the atmosphere on set was instantly filled with warmth and solidarity. "We had one meet-up before the movie started," she reflects, "and I was so nervous. I remember everything about it, including the weather that day.
Helena Bonham Carter was the first cast member I met. She said, 'Come over here, come talk to me.' "That set the stage for an extremely warm environment; it was a pleasure to go to work every day. It was such a joyous set, full of laughter and empowerment. We were doing this movie - and killing it. There was always a lot of laughter - to the point where we were sometimes told to stop, because we were rolling. Every day and night felt like a slumber party."
Awkwafina has a theory as to why audiences love the Ocean's films. "They're like superhero movies," she muses. "The audacity of pulling off a heist is something that no ordinary person would ever do. The line between good and bad becomes subject to interpretation. The Ocean's 8 women are criminals, but at the same time they're doing this for a reason. Audiences will know that women can do anything - even pull off an epic heist. Everyone will enjoy it. I don't see how they can't."
Ocean's 8 is in cinemas from June 22, with previews from June 18.