Awkwafina is having a history-making year: Not only did she star in Crazy Rich Asians—the first film in years with a cast of Asian descent—but on Saturday she also became just the second Asian women ever to host Saturday Night Live in the show’s 44-year history.
During her opening monologue, Awkwafina told a few great jokes about how she’s not, in fact, a “crazy rich Asian,” instead she’s a “rebuilding-my-credit Asian” who still buys her underwear in “12 packs from CVS.” As she wrapped up, however,, she took a moment to share a heartfelt story about how as a teenager she traveled to 30 Rock to stand outside as her idol, Lucy Liu, became the first Asian woman ever to host the show.
“Back in 2000, I came to 30 Rock and waited outside when my idol, Lucy Liu, hosted SNL,” she said, waiting for a quick applause break from the audience. “I was a kid, and I didn’t have a ticket so I knew I wasn’t getting in, but I just wanted to be near the building. And I remember how important that episode was for me, and how it totally changed what I thought was possible for an Asian-American woman.”
She waited out the hearty applause from the crowd before closing out her monologue and adding, “Standing here tonight is a dream I never thought would come true. So thank you, Lucy, for opening the door. I wasn’t able to make it in the building back then, but 18 years later I’m hosting the show.”
Awkwafina again addressed the issue of representation in a sketch called “#MeToo, Year Two” alongside several women on the cast. In the sketch, Awkwafina played Sandra Oh. noting that the #MeToo conversation “almost been compounded with [the one around] representation.”
McKinnon, playing her hilarious character of “legend” Debette Goldry laughed off the comment saying, “That’s not true. There were plenty of fabulous parts for Asian gals in the 1940s. And I played all of them!” Clearly, however, there’s still a long way to go.
Check out the entire sketch below: