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Awkwafina, the First Asian Woman to Host 'SNL' in More Than 18 Years, Honors Lucy Liu During Opening Monologue


“Saturday Night Live” host Awkwafina paid a touching tribute to actress Lucy Liu in her opening monologue of the show, thanking Liu, the first Asian woman to ever host the show, for “opening the door.”

Awkwafina shared a memory of standing in line as a young girl, as her “idol,” Liu, was set to host the show that night. The “Crazy Rich Asians” actress, then an 11-year-old named Nora Lum from Queens, had traveled to Manhattan to wait outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza that night, The Huffington Post reports.

“I was a kid, and I didn’t have a ticket, so I knew that I wasn’t getting in,” Awkwafina recalled. “I just wanted to be near the building. I remember how important that episode was for me, and how it totally it changed what I thought was possible for an Asian-American woman.”

The audience cheered, acknowledging the significance of the moment for the visibly moved host.

“Standing here tonight is a dream I never thought would come true,” she continued. “So thank you, Lucy, for opening the door. I wasn’t able to make it into the building back then, but 18 years later, I’m hosting the show.”

Shouting up to the rafters, Awkwafina said, “I love you, Lucy Liu! Be my friend!”

Awkwafina, only the second woman to ever host “SNL,” was also part of another major breakthrough with the hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” the first Hollywood film in 25 years to feature an almost entirely Asian cast, The Washington Post reports.

The actress said she had cried while viewing the film, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “I watched ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ and not even at the sad parts, I cried. And I’ve watched Asian-American kids come out of screenings and they’re crying. We’re out there and we exist.”

During her monologue, Awkwafina proclaimed she was “just your average Asian trumpet player-turned-rapper-turned-actress, very stereotypical,” and joked about people’s assumptions of her, which had more to do with fame rather than race.

“I’m actually from New York. I grew up in Queens. My dad still lives there,” she said. “People assume my dad has an accent — and he does. He sounds like Donald Trump, because they’re both old guys from Queens.”

Her “Crazy Rich Asian” costars applauded her performance, and thanked her for “kicking that door wide open.”

“Thank YOU, @awkwafina, for kicking that door wide open,” Ken Jeong tweeted.

Congratulations to Awkwafina for a great performance on “SNL,” and thank you for helping to further break down the barriers and promote inclusivity in the entertainment industry.

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