'The Farewell' allows rapper turned comedy actress Awkwafina to tackle her first dramatic role

HOLLYWOOD (KABC) -- After her scene-stealing supporting role in last year's mega hit "Crazy Rich Asians," rapper-turned-actress Awkwafina is pushing out of her comedy comfort zone and had tackled her first dramatic role.

"The Farewell" is based on director Lulu Wang's own family, who traveled to China to spend time with their cancer-stricken grandmother. But the family decides to conceal the terminal diagnosis from Grandma, who they call Nay-Nay, because they want her last days and months to be filled with joy and peace.

Awkwafina stars as "Billi", grandma's favorite... and she says she saw her own family in Wang's story.

"I did, yeah. It was a big part of why I wanted to do this movie so badly," said Awkwafina. "At first I thought it was my own personal connection to the script, but after we started screening it, it was clear it's everyone's connection. Everyone has a grandma, everyone has experienced that love. And when you see it in the realist form, it's very powerful."

While Awkwafina has made her mark in the music and comedy worlds, she wanted to push herself and try her hand at a more serious role. She went to an early, informal meeting with Wang at a coffee shop.

"She herself was like, I know you're thinking can I act? I don't know. I haven't done this. I really want to do it. I believe that I can. But let's see. I'll send the audition tape and we can see," said Wang. "And I immediately knew. And I took a bunch of screen shots and was sending it to producers and thinking this is the one, she's the one. Look at that!"

"I was naked in that one right?" joked Awkwafina.

"The Farewell" is rated PG and is in theaters Friday, July 12th.
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