On Saturday, Oct. 6, Saturday Night Live's second episode of the season set a milestone when it aired with host Awkwafina at its helm. By emceeing the show, the rapper and actress (who you might known from Ocean's 8 and Crazy Rich Asians) became the second woman of Asian descent to ever host SNL. The star made a few opening remarks about the momentous occasion, and Awkwafina's SNL monologue on being the first Asian woman to host in 18 years is so inspiring. The Twitterverse took to the social media platform to recognize the landmark, and everyone is applauding Awkwafina for breaking down that barrier.
During Saturday evening's show on Oct. 6, Awkwafina addressed the historic moment by reminiscing on when she was 11-year-old Nora Lum from Queens and she waited outside the SNL studio to see the first Asian woman ever to host the show back in 2000: Lucy Liu.
"I was a kid, and I didn’t have a ticket, so I knew that I wasn’t getting in," she recalled to the audience. "I just wanted to be near the building. I remember how important that episode was for me and totally changed what I thought was possible for an Asian-American woman." Her statement was met with cheers.
Awkwafina continued by giving a shout out to her "idol." "Thank you, Lucy, for opening the door," she said. "I wasn't able to make it in the building back then, but 18 years later, I am hosting the show."
She concluded, "I love you, Lucy Liu! Be my friend!"
With her appearance, the actress — who introduced herself to the audience as "just your average Asian trumpet player-turned-rapper-turned-actress, very stereotypical" — became the first Asian woman in almost two decades to snag the gig as well as the fifth star of Asian descent. Aziz Ansari, Kumail Nanjiani, and Jackie Chan have previously hosted.
Fellow actors and actresses as well as fans took to Twitter in swarms to give the Crazy Rich Asians breakout star major props for pushing through the barrier. For many Asian viewers, seeing Awkwafina take the stage was an emotional moment hinting at more future representation from the Asian community.
During the evening, Awkwafina imbued the sketches with her trademark humor, even as she called out the lack of diversity and rampant whitewashing in Hollywood.
In one skit where Marion Cotillard (Cecily Strong) and Allison Janey (Heidi Gardner) joined Kate McKinnon as actress Debette Goldry and Awkwafina as Sandra Oh to talk about the #MeToo movement, McKinnon, playing Goldry as a fictional actress who came up in Hollywood during a time when actresses weren't as respected as actors, told the women, "There were plenty of great roles for Asian women in the 1940s," before adding, “And I should know — I played all of them."
While the sketches of the night clearly pointed out the current issues regarding representation in Hollywood. Awkwafina was there as a reminder that the tides are turning closer to bridging that representation gap.
With the commercial and critical success of Crazy Rich Asians, which made history with its all-Asian, contemporary cast, and a sequel reportedly in the works, it looks like 2018 is the year that the Asian community is finally getting some more representation in Hollywood — and it's about time.