Living in New York can be an intense yet exciting adventure for any young person. But to do so through the eyes of the bubbly Awkwafina, playing a fictionalized version of herself, is an experience that makes for a riveting sitcom that is both humorous and relatable to viewers. On the series premiere date on Comedy Central in January 2020, it became the network’s highest-rated season one premiere in three years, attracting almost half a million viewers on its debut. 

“Awkwafina is Nora From Queens” season one also generated 39,000 social engagements across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — the most socially active premiere on Comedy Central since 2016. The popular show has aired its first and second seasons and has since been renewed for a third season.

This article will tell all about the marvel cast of “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens” and the interesting roles that they play.

The Main Characters of “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens”

The Main Characters of “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens”

If you are new to the show, then we are here to introduce you to the characters you will learn to love in the episodes of “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens.”

About Awkwafina (Nora)

Nora Lum as Awkwafina

Nora Lum — known professionally as Awkwafina — plays the show’s lead character, Nora Lin, a fictionalized version of herself. Nora Lin is a 20-something trying to navigate the twists and turns of young adulthood in Queens, NYC. Alongside her cousin, Nora Lin is raised by her widowed father and sharp-tongued grandmother in a multi-generational household where she lives her life almost on impulse.

Awkwafina - Nora Sitting

In episode nine of season two, “The Simple Life,” she abruptly leaves her cousin Edmund in Los Angeles, only to get lost in New Mexico where she stumbles upon a cult to which her Aunt Sandra belongs.

Awkwafina’s natural energy and compelling acting make the show quite riveting to watch. Many fans will remember the “Crazy Rich Asians” star for her viral 2012 song, “My Vag,” which reportedly got her fired from a book publishing job. She is one of the executive producers of the show together with Karey Dornetto, Lucia Aniello, Teresa Hsiao, Peter Principato, and Itay Reiss.

Awkwafina - Nora carrying water

About Lori Tan Chinn

Lori Tan Chinn

Well known for her role as Mei Chang on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, Lori Tan Chinn is the foul-mouthed yet adorable Grandma on “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens.” As the Grandma helping to raise Awkwafina, Lori is described by fans as a total “badass.” In other words, she is very prone to a vulgar rant at anyone who crosses her. On a visit to Atlantic City, she proves as capable of starting a war between the Chinese and Koreans as she is capable of being a regular, doting grandma that we all love. Some might even say she is the glue that keeps the household together, as she proves in the episode ‘Grandma & Chill’ which is the second-highest-rated episode of season one.

Lori Tan Chinn delivers a real veteran’s performance in this role. But that should come as no surprise considering she has spent a large portion of a remarkable career playing minor but memorable roles in several films. Her role in the 1999 film “Mickey Blue Eyes” comes to mind for being the annoying and uncouth waitress in the ‘eat cookie’ scene. Lori won the 2003 Helen Hayes Award for outstanding supporting actress in a resident musical for her performance as Bloody Mary in the film “South Pacific.”

About BD Wong (Wally)

BD Wong

Bradley Darryl Wong, popularly known as BD Wong, is Wally, Nora’s father in the show. A widower, Wally loved his wife and routinely mentions how much he misses her. He also loves his daughter Nora and his mother, Nora’s Grandma. However, he sometimes finds them overbearing to live and deal with. In one episode, he joins Instagram in an attempt to find women he can date. He eventually begins to date Brenda, a woman he meets in a single-parent support group.

Wong, who made his directorial debut in the episode “Tales From The Blackout,” can add this role of an extremely laidback tech-consultant father to a long list of prominent and successful roles, such as Dr. George Huang on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” Father Ray Mukada in “Oz,” and Dr. Henry Wu in the “Jurassic Park” franchise. His long career has earned him a Tony award and nominations in the Critics’ Choice and Emmy Awards for his work in “Mr. Robot.”

Wally in Awkwafina

About Bowen Yang

Awkwafina - Bowen Yang

Bowen Yang plays the role of Edmund, Nora’s cousin, who is Ivy League-educated and successful in tech. He is always vying for Grandma’s affection and attention and never misses a chance to put Nora in her place.

“Awkwafina is Nora From Queens” Recurring and Guest Characters

  • Chris Gethard plays Toby, who is a parent in the single-parent support group. Toby is always trying to make playdates and regular dates with the other parents. He is slightly annoying to the other parents for his persistence.
  • Chrissie Fit is known for roles in “General Hospital,” “Pitch Perfect 2” and “Pitch Perfect 3.” Chrissie plays the role of Melanie, Nora’s friend in the show. Melanie is a hustler who sells sand art on the boardwalk in Atlantic City and is fiercely loyal.
  • Deborah S. Craig first appeared in the season finale of season one as Nora’s boss, Nancy. She is glad to give Nora a job as an assistant so she can spend more time on her nails and skin treatment while Nora runs the already poorly run business.
  • Erin Fogel plays Ellen, who is a parent in the single-parent support group that Wally also attends.
  • Gabo Augustine plays Teddy, Nora’s teen neighbor with wisdom that belies his age.
  • Jonathan Park guest stars as another of Nora’s friends, Doug, drifting in and out of her life but always available to help with some of her ill-conceived business endeavors.
  • Makeda Declet plays Chenise, Nora’s friend with the comfortable couch. She accommodates Nora when she moves out of her dad’s and grandmother’s house in season one.
  • Margaret Cho features as Mistress Jupiter, a member of a cult-like group that Nora happens upon in New Mexico.
  • Ming-Na Wen plays Sandra, Nora’s aunt in season one.
  • Jaboukie Young-White plays Daniel, Nora’s childhood friend who works as a doorman in Edmund’s building.
  • Jennifer Esposito is Brenda, Wally’s girlfriend. She meets Wally at the single-parent support group.

Where Can You Watch “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens?”

Where to Watch “Awkwafina is Nora From Queens”

“Awkwafina is Nora From Queens” is available to watch on Comedy Central, fuboTV, and HBO Max where you can also watch other Comedy Central productions like “The Other Two.” HBO Max subscriptions start at $9.99 per month with limited ads and $14.99 for an ad-free experience. You can also stream the show by renting or purchasing it for as low as $1.99 from Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and Vudu.

Is “Awkwafina is Nora from Queens” Based on a True Story?

“Awkwafina is Nora From Queens” is loosely based on the life of Awkwafina. Born on Long Island, Awkwafina grew up in Queens, New York, where her semi-fictionalized character on the show lives. There are clear similarities between Awkwafina and her character on the show. The evidence suggests they are both ambitious and industrious — after all, Awkwafina shot to fame after her now-viral rap video cost her a book publishing job but landed her a star-making career in the process.  

Unlike the nearly bummed-out version of Nora on the show, however, Awkwafina is a hardworking, successful musician and actress.

The role of Wally, Nora’s father in the show, is based on her actual father. Nora’s father in real life is called Wally and works in information technology, much like the character Wally on the show, who is a tech consultant.

So while the premise of the show takes its root in Awkwafina’s life experiences, huge parts of it are fictionalized, of course, like the absurd storylines and devices employed to add humor to the show.

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Heather Reinblatt

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV