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New York Native Awkwafina Makes History At Golden Globes, First Asian To Win Lead Actress In A Film

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (CBSNewYork/CNN) -- A New York native has made Golden Globes history Sunday.

Awkwafina, the star of "The Farewell" is the first performer of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe Award in a lead actress film category.

She's only the sixth woman of Asian descent to be nominated in the lead actress in a musical or comedy category.

NBC's "77th Annual Golden Globe Awards" - Show
Awkwafina accepts the award for BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE - MUSICAL OR COMEDY for "The Farewell" onstage during the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 5, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal Media, LLC via Getty Images)

The others were Machiko Kyo (1956's "The Teahouse of the August Moon"), Miyoshi Umeki (1961's "Flower Drum Song"), Yvonne Elliman (1973's "Jesus Christ Superstar"), and Constance Wu (2018). Hailee Steinfeld, whose mother is of Filipino descent, was all nominated for her work in "Edge of Seventeen."

Wu's nomination last year was notable for ending a disappointing drought of female nominees of Asian descent that lasted almost half a century.

Awkwafina joins a small group of performers of Asian lineage who have won Golden Globe awards since the show started. Sandra Oh is the only performer of Asian descent to have won twice.

The 31-year-old was born in New York and grew up in Forest Hills, Queens.

Born, Nora Lum, she adopted her stage name while attending LaGuardia High School as a teen.

"The Farewell," which features as predominantly Asian cast, tells the story of a young woman named Billi (Awkwafina) whose family decides to keep news of a terminal diagnosis from the family's elder matriarch, Billi's grandmother Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao).

Writer and director Lulu Wang adapted a personal story she first told on NPR's "This American Life."

In her acceptance speech, Awkwafina said Wang gave her "the chance of a lifetime" and "taught me so much."

She dedicated her award to her father.

"I told you I'd get a job, dad."

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)

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