Awkwafina says 'Charlie's Angels' "changed her life".
The 'Crazy Rich Asians' star really looks up the likes of Margaret Cho and Lucy Liu and admits she was left feeling "obsessed" with the latter after watching her in the 2000 movie.
She said: "I was obsessed with Lucy Liu, especially after 'Charlie's Angels'; that movie changed my life ... I latched on to strong Asian-American idols - Margaret Cho, Lucy Liu - that represented us as truly authentic beings. Maybe not authentic, but just ourselves."
The 30-year-old actress and singer is used to being "taunted" for her accent and looks and feels that is a direct result of how Asian people are portrayed on comedy shows and in the wider society.
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She added: "The way that media portrays people is the way that they are then treated in real life. Anything I grew up being taunted with - the accent, the 'ching-chongs' - those are generated from characters or the way we are spoken about in standup comedy."
Awkwafina grew up feeling like she "didn't belong".
She told The Guardian newspaper: "I was growing up my whole life with people telling me to go back to this place, on the street or whatever. And you go back and you genuinely feel like you don't belong there - you don't speak the language and you were never taught it, you feel like a failure in that way. It's ironic."