Awkwafina is Nora from Queens in Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens, a new Comedy Central show created by Awkwafina and inspired by her real life as Nora... from Queens. If you didn't know, Awkwafina's real name is Nora Lum; in the new show, her character's name in Nora Lin. The show's title just really wants you to know what you're getting when you tune in.
While there are, clearly, some similarities between the two Noras, the new show could be viewed as a look at how Awkwafina's life might have been if she didn't get a big break as a rapper/comedian-turned-actor. Awkwafina first rose to fame in the early 2010s, making viral videos of her songs and then getting cast on MTV's Girl Code in 2014 when she was in her mid-20s.
Nora Lim, on the other hand, is 27 and lives with her dad and grandma because she isn't a Golden Globe-winning actor. Like Nora Lin, Awkwafina lost her mother at age four (which she touched on in her Globes acceptance speech) and was raised by her dad and grandmother. Both women are half Korean and half Chinese, which is a topic brought up on the show. The fictional Nora is trying to figure out where her life is going, while looking for a job, smoking a lot of weed, and taking unexpectedly wild trips to Atlantic City with her grandmother.
On the show, Nora's grandmother is played by Lori Tan Chenn (Orange Is the New Black), and she's a sassy woman, who gets an "Eminem" haircut and battles a group of women in a food court over their use of the only outlet. (She needs her iPad charged to watch her K-dramas!) In an essay for People in July 2019, Awkwafina wrote of her grandma, "She was my best friend at a young age. She’s snarky; she enjoys a good joke. Nothing was ever too dirty for her ... She was really strong too. Whenever people talked about Asian women being these docile, subservient creatures, my grandma just blew all that out of the water."
As for her dad (played on the series by BD Wong), Awkwafina spoke about him in an interview about Nora From Queens with the New York Times. "My dad still lives in the same building I grew up in," she said. "My old neighbors find my dad and they’re like, 'I can’t believe she’s that same little girl.' He definitely hams it up with everyone."
At 31, Awkwafina has a little more life experience than her counterpart. "Nora is where a lot of us find ourselves in our 20s," she told the New York Times. "What's next? Do you find success and suddenly it fixes everything? No, life is an open-ended question."
In the real world, Awkwafina has, undeniably, found a lot of success. After her award-winning performance in the dramedy The Farewell and roles in both Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean's 8, her move to TV might seem surprising, but it's been in the works for quite some time; Nora From Queens was first announced in early 2018.
"I realized that my trajectory doesn't make any sense," Awkwafina said in her New York Times interview. "I have no idea if this is literally going to end tomorrow. I'm definitely prepared for end times. I want to do this sitcom for that reason."
Nora From Queens airs on Comedy Central from 22nd January in the US with a UK release date to be announced