Awkwafina‘s had a pretty amazing summer, to say the least. The New York City–born rapper and actress has starred in two major movies: Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, which hits theaters later this week. For Awkwafina, these milestones come after years of struggling in the acting and music worlds. She released her debut single, “My Vag,” in 2012, but it took years for things to pick up steam. Now she has two albums and a string of acting credits under her belt—and she’s just getting started.
While on her way to the Crazy Rich Asians premiere in Hollywood last week, Awkwafina posted a message to Twitter reflecting on her journey from then to now.
“In 2012 I put a video called ‘My Vag’ on YouTube, knowing that it probably wouldn’t do well – and it would make me the laughing stock of every job interview ever,” she posted. “I wrote a song called ‘NYC Bitches’ while making $9/hr at a vegan bodega. After it went on YouTube, a man came in and asked if I was Awkwafina – it made me so happy.”
She continued, “One day, I got the email of my life. An A&R exec at a major record label wanted to meet with me. I listened to ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac on the way to the meeting. He listened to two of my songs and never called me again.”
That’s a drastically different picture to Awkwafina’s life now. “5 years later, I’m in an Escalade in a gown, driving down Hollywood Blvd. that they shut down of for Crazy Rich Asians,” she wrote. “And I asked the driver for the [auxiliary chord] to play ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac. I became teary, thinking about this moment, what it meant.”
“I remembered those days when I got fired from my job for Awkwafina, when I was broke for Awkwafina, when I got kicked off line-ups because ‘Awkwafina is a joke,'” she expanded. “Awkwafina was a dream I was chasing, and in some ways, I am still chasing her. But we need to take risks. We need to go broke. We need to prove them wrong, simply by not giving up. Awkwafina wasn’t supposed to exist, but somehow she does. And I think about it everyday, that she was born for one reason only – to show every person out there, that it is possible.”
See her message for yourself in the tweet, above. If Awkwafina’s this stoked about her career now, imagine how she’ll feel after this weekend, when Crazy Rich Asians no doubt slays the box office.