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NYS Writers Institute, Thursday, August 31, 2017
4:15 p.m. Conversation, Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center


Awkwafina (AKA Nora Lum), UAlbany alum, acclaimed rap artist, comedian, author, and actress in the forthcoming 2018 films Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean’s Eight, will talk with her former journalism professor, Steve Barnes of the Times Union, about her life and career on Thursday, August 31 at 4:15 p.m. in the Main Theatre, Performing Arts Center on the University at Albany’s uptown campus. Earlier that day at 3:15 p.m., she will appear at an informal meet and greet in the new Campus Center West Addition on the UAlbany uptown campus. Free and open to the public, the events are cosponsored by the NYS Writers Institute and the UAlbany Student Association with support from University Auxiliary Services.

(AKA Nora Lum) is a multi-talented rap artist, comedian, actress, talk show host, and author who graduated with honors from UAlbany with B.A. in Journalism in 2011.  A significant, emerging Asian American pop cultural figure, she was recently named by The Hollywood Reporter as one of “Hollywood’s Rising Stars 35 and Under.” Pioneering Asian American comedian Margaret Cho has proclaimed, “Awkwafina is the future!”

On Thursday, August 31, Awkwafina will talk with her former UAlbany journalism professor, Steve Barnes, senior writer and restaurant critic of the Times Union, about her life and career. Awkwafina took four journalism courses with Barnes, who called her, “an extraordinarily gifted young writer, one capable of packing moods, scenes, emotion, insight and intelligent wit into essays of four to five pages.” Awkwafina credits UAlbany for nurturing her creative talent. “I wanted to learn from all of these professors I was so intrigued by,” she said in an interview. “I don’t think I would have been able to be Awkwafina if I didn’t go to SUNY.”
Awkwafina will appear in the forthcoming 2018 Warner Bros. film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s bestselling novel, Crazy Rich Asians, produced by Color Force, the studio responsible for The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Hunger Games series of films.

She will also appear as one of the principal cast members in Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eight, joining an all-female bank heist team that includes Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, and Mindy Kaling. Warner Bros. will release the film in June 2018.

Awkwafina has received growing acclaim over the past three years for her quirky persona, impish humor, cheeky music videos, and engaging manner as a talk show host. Formerly the co-host of MTV’s weekly late-night talk show Girl Code Live!, she now hosts her own show, TAWK, on Verizon’s new streaming service, TAWK was an Official Honoree at the 2016 Webby Awards and a 2016 Streamy Award nominee in the News and Culture category.

Awkwafina first earned notoriety and acclaim for her viral, self-produced music video, “My Vag,” a bawdy parody of the boastfulness of conventional rap lyrics. Her debut album, Yellow Ranger, appeared in 2014. She was profiled in the 2016 film, Bad Rap, a Tribeca Film Festival selection, along with three other Asian American rappers. Also in 2016 she released a music video with Margaret Cho for her Asian American rap anthem, “Green Tea.”

Born in Queens to a family of Chinese and Korean descent, Awkwafina attended LaGuardia High School, nationally recognized for its programs in music, art, and the performing arts.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at