Anyone who plays Mario Kart 8 Deluxe knows how destructive a blue turtle shell can be in destroying families and friendships, and Awkwafina is no exception.
“I no longer talk to aunt Linda,” jokes the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star about being bombed by a turtle shell on Mario Kart. “She’s no longer allowed.”
For the Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens creator, gaming has long been of interest ever since she was a child, having loved Donkey Kong Country, Duck Hunt, and Super Mario games growing up.
“I’ve always enjoyed gaming,” the actor, writer, and producer tells EW in a video call (while playing a few rounds of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe). “That was the ultimate Christmas present for me, getting some kind of console. I’ve always been a fan.”
In fact, she revealed that the Super Nintendo Entertainment System from the aughts “changed her life,” and was ecstatic when the company reached out about a potential partnership.
“At the time that this kind of partnership happened, I was very into Nintendo Switch and I kind of freaked out,” says Awkwafina. “It was so crazy because [gaming] is all that I do.”
Like many over the past year and a half, she has carried her Nintendo Switch everywhere and has spent plenty of time building out her island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons — though she’s “so sorry that it’s called ‘Taco Bell.'”
“What I love about Animal Crossing: New Horizons is that there is this element of something that’s really peaceful and therapeutic and also something that you are kind of building for yourself, and it’s almost like a second life you’re leading,” she shares, calling it one of her favorite games. “The way you can interact with other people on there is something that I’ve never seen before.”
Apart from ACNH and Mario Kart, she also lists Pianista and Jeopardy as titles she’s been spending time playing.
Buy it! Animal Crossing: New Horizons, $50.99 (orig. $59.99) at amazon.com
Not that she hasn’t been busy with work, having starred recently as Katy in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, as well as leading season 2 of Nora From Queens. The former has broken box office records since debuting on Labor Day weekend and has been lauded for bringing a fresh level of Asian representation to the big screen. She’s been blown away by the success and response to the film.
“You never really know how a movie’s going to turn out when you’re making it. You know of the feeling — if it feels good making it — and I think there was a lot of heart that goes into it. So when projects like that turn out to be successful, and they’re kinda felt, that’s even more rewarding.”
Katy was “one of the best characters I’ll play in my career,” she adds, saying it “was someone who was so easy to step into and play because she’s just so similar to who I am. That being said in the way that she makes decisions and the way she looks at the world, and the way she looks at herself. She’s a flawed but very brave character; she’s someone I aspire to be.”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is near the end of its theatrical run, but Awkwafina will be back on screens again in December starring alongside Mahershala Ali in the Apple TV+ drama Swan Song. In the meantime, you can expect her to be spending quality time with her Switch.
“As an adult, you kind of have to renavigate your way back [to video games],” she says. “You do lose that kinda connection between childhood, but I think that it’s a really easy process with a Nintendo Switch over the past last couple of years.”
Catch Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings for streaming on Disney+ when it lands on the platform Friday, Nov. 12, and shop Awkwafina’s favorite Nintendo games and the Switch below.
Nintendo Switch with Neon Red/Neon Blue Joy-Cons
Buy it! $299.99 at bestbuy.com
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Buy it! $50.99 (orig. $59.99) at amazon.com
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Buy it! $48.99 (orig. $59.99) at bestbuy.com
America’s Greatest Game Shows: Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy
Buy it! $29.99 at bestbuy.com
Buy it! $19.99 (orig. $24.99) at nintendo.com
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