Awkwafina and Lulu Wang Discuss Family and The Farewell at 2019 Atlanta Film Festival
Have you ever been trusted with a secret that you found morally hard to keep to
yourself? Imagine if that secret impacted not only you, but people you love. This was a
personal reality that director Lulu Wang brought to screen in new A24 film, The Farewell.
The story follows Billie, played by actress Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians,
Oceans 8) and her family who decide to spare their grandmother the facts of her
terminal diagnosis. In exchange for a public grieving, the family plans an impromptu
wedding to discreetly say their goodbyes. In the film Wang comedically and emotionally
highlights cultural differences, the power of family and social expectations.
The Farewell’s red carpet premiere kicked off the 2019 Atlanta Film Festival, and
Plastiq Magazine had the opportunity to chat with star Awkwafina and director Lulu Wang.
Kirby: Did playing Billie remind you of any of your own special family memories?
Where did it take you back to?
Awkwafina: Honestly, it reminds me of the dialogue that goes on during a dysfunctional
thanksgiving dinner. That kind of realness that you can't make up, and it made me think
of my Grandmother a lot as well.
Kirby: This is such a personal story. Did you ever question sharing it with the
Lulu: Yes definitely, especially when we were trying to get the life rights from all of my
family. Some questioned what I was going to write about, but really they just trusted me.
I certainly didn't want to improperly represent them in any way that felt disrespectful. But
at the same time, I also had a responsibility to the audience to tell the truth and make
things feel real. I'd talk to my family about it, let them know what scene I wanted to write,
and make sure they felt comfortable with it.
What's the best piece of advice you've each gotten from a family member?
My grandma gives me a lot of good advice. One thing she says is, Don't
ever expect things to always be at a pleasant level. Life will some times to take you on a
wild ride, and sometimes it will be the lowest of the low but it will never be the medium.
Lulu: My mother always says, "Grow slowly." Sometimes the tallest tree in the forest is
the one the wind is going to knock over. Having a strong foundation is most important.
Build from the roots instead of focusing on trying to get to the top as quickly as possible.
The Atlanta film festival continues through April 14 and includes various films,
panels, and parties. Tickets are available at
Written by: Kirby Carroll Wright
Photography by: Klarque Garrison