Actress Awkwafina says she’s open to engaging with her critics who express dismay over her use of a Black accent.
During an interview with Reuters Showbiz to promote Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, a reporter asked her about that criticism.
“I’m open to the conversation,” she said haltingly and nervously. “I think it’s really something that I think is multifaceted and layered. So, yeah.”
“I’ve walked out of auditions where the casting director all of a sudden changed her mind and asked for accents. I refuse to do accents,” said Awkwafina. “Like that’s annoying and I make it very clear, I don’t ever go out for auditions where I feel like I’m making a minstrel out of our people.”
Then in the walk up to Shang-Chi, her critics took to social media to call her out for what they saw was an inconsistency. Awkwafina most recently used a Black accent in her role in Crazy Rich Asians. The former rapper has used the same mannerisms in earlier appearances.
The controversy has been lingering for several years. One of the earlier articles appeared in August 2018 in Colorlines entitled Performing blackness won’t fill our Asian American culture deficit.
The article written by Muging M Zhang called her use of the accent “disturbing.” Awkwafina wasn’t the only Asian American celebrity called out in the article. Zhang also targeted Eddie Huang and YouTuber Liza Koshy.
Where the conversation goes next may ultimately be decided by her fans. Awkwafina’s popularity and name recognition have never been higher. The flip side is that’s made her a bigger target.
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