Read the full transcript of Awkwafina’s speech below:
Hi guys, hi. This is so horrifying right now. Y’all had the opportunity to have a teleprompter? How come no one told me? OK. Wow, this is cool. I am so nervous, I am wearing full-body Spanx right now. I’m literally Velcroed in.
When I was young, I was searching for idols. I was searching for my story. And I never saw girls like me. When you don’t see girls like you, it makes your dreams seem impossible. But luckily I had three things: I had Margaret Cho, god bless. I had Lucy Liu, god bless. I had the ‘Joy Luck Club,’ god bless. Have you guys seen the ‘Joy Luck Club’? That movie is like the Asian American Titanic. For a seven-year-old to watch the ‘Joy Luck Club’ on a loop, thanking my grandma for bringing me here so I wasn’t left out on a roadside? That was my childhood.
Flash-forward to 2012, I was working as a publicist for a book company. I was also producing music. A friend of mine was like, ‘Hey, I just heard this dope song of yours. Do you want to make a music video?’ You guys know what song I’m talking about, right? My… ‘My Vag.’ I’m sorry. James said his parents are here. I’m so sorry.
I was like, ‘I can’t do that. I have a job now. I’m going to get fired.’ My friend was like, ‘No, you won’t. Just wear big glasses to cover your face.’ I was like, ‘Oh my god, you are so smart.’ I was fired immediately. Immediately fired. I didn’t even get a chance to explain. So I one day woke up. I was working at a vegan bodega. Shoutout, vegan bodega! And ‘My Vag’ — sorry, James’ parents — went viral.
I think it happened for two reasons: First, because no one had ever seen anything like me, and that’s why they clicked. Second, because Asian American women never saw anyone like them.
I don’t think that progress is necessarily sprinkling in Asian people to create the illusion of diversity. I think progress is giving us the ability to tell our own stories. Asian people need to be seen, but they also need to be seen as authentically themselves.
I have the voice of a pro wrestler and the body of a pikachu, and I stand before you tonight as a message that dreams can come true. Thank you so much.