Awkwafina had a pretty stellar start to 2020. January saw the premiere of her well-received Comedy Central series Nora From Queens and a Golden Globe win for her work in 2019's The Farewell. From there it was off to Sydney to film her secretive role in the upcoming Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings...then COVID. “I came back home to L.A., and at that point L.A. had already been kind of locked down a little bit,” the actress tells The A.V. Club of how she’s spent her pandemic months. “So there has been working, and then half has just been at home and stuff. You are very blessed if you can be working, but, yeah, the rest of the time it’s just a lot of video games and a lot of waiting it out.”
So how has she been waiting it out? The actress guests on Thursday’s episode of The A.V. Club’s podcast Push The Envelope and shares her favorite pieces of pop culture of 2020. To listen to the entire conversation, subscribe to Push The Envelope wherever you get your podcast. But for now, you can read an excerpt from the chat below.
The A.V. Club: What video games have you been playing?
Awkwafina: So much! I open up the quarantine definitely playing Animal Crossing and Mario Kart. I have a PC and I play this word-typing game. Like, it scrolls the words and then you just type the word in. So not, like, hardcore cool ones. Like, I’m not like on Among Us, you know? Because that’s like what all cool cats and kittens are playing nowadays, but I’m not.... I picked up the bass guitar... Karaoke. I don’t know if you saw the the stuff we did with Heineken, but that was bestiegiftever.com. It’s something Heineken is doing this year to kind of promote connection where there’s not the ability to find much. And so, for me, I was able to surprise my best friend with a mobile karaoke booth—which was so sick and, like, off the chain. But you can basically send yourself to your bestie. I just thought it was a good a cool thing for Heineken to be doing this year, just to kind of allow people to stay in touch and kind of send that initial message, that even though we can’t be together right now, I would like to.
AVC: I want to go back to something you just mentioned.... You picked up the bass? Had that been an instrument you experimented with before, or was this a completely new endeavor?
A: In junior high school, I played the trumpet. That was, like, my main gig. But then I picked up the bass because it was like on a different scale. I thought that was really interesting. But I had low bass self-esteem. So in the room.... You know, this is not like a rock band, we’re playing classical music. When we’d go on to stage, like during our shows, I have the bass plugged in, but I’d lower the volume because I just didn’t want to pick the wrong note. So the band teacher was always like, “I need the bass!” So I had like really low bass self-esteem. So I went to Guitar Center, I bought a new one, and I bought the same book that I learned in junior high school and I’m just relearning it, getting some getting some calluses.
AVC: I heard you quote Carole Baskin earlier. I’m assuming you watched Tiger King. Why do you think that show captivated everyone?
A: I think anything that has characters, captivating characters, whether that’s fiction or nonfiction, that’s going to have something that takes your attention, whether it’s good or bad. And you really can’t get more of a character than Joe Exotic or Carole Baskin. Those are exquisitely written and portrayed, if you could write them—layered, flawed, with humility and then without. It’s just so much. And I think Netflix, in general, has had this genre that pulled me in from the jump, like Wild Wild Country and Evil Genius...
At this point, the interview was briefly interrupted as Awkwafina got a call from her grandma. To hear the rest of the conversation—including what she’s been listening to this year, her favorite movies, and what complaint she has for the producers of Unsolved Mysteries—check out Push The Envelope.
This week’s episode of Push The Envelope also features an interview with Wander Darkly’s Sienna Miller.
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