The past few years have given audiences some of the biggest and brightest stars in recent memory, and near the top of that list of young standouts is Awkwafina, the hilarious rapper-turned-actress who has taken the world by storm since first appearing on screen midway through the 2010s. In recent years, the Chinese American actress has starred in films like Ocean's 8, Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell, the latter of which earned her a Golden Globe in 2020. But as they like to say, there's no rest for the weary, and it doesn't look like Awkwafina is wasting any time or momentum moving forward.
Over the course of the next several of years, Awkwafina will be in a Marvel movie, a Disney live-action adaptation and several other movies that will surely elevate the star to the next level of her career. Here's what's on tap for the comedic actress.
Raya And The Last Dragon - March 12, 2021
2021 will be a big year for Awkwafina, and she will star things off with a leading role in Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon, an animated fantasy film about a lone warrior who embarks upon an epic journey to locate the last known water dragon in existence so that she can save her kingdom from an evil threat. Disney first announced Raya and the Last Dragon at its 2019 D23 event, where the studio revealed that Degrassi actress Cassie Steele would be playing Raya and Awkwafina would be taking on the role of Sisu, the last water dragon. However, there was a major shakeup in August 2020 when it was announced that Star Wars star Kelly Marie Tran would be taking over the role of Raya.
Since its initial announcement back in 2019, Raya and the Last Dragon has been met with some production delays brought on the recasting of the film's lead, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, which swept across the globe just as production was picking up in March 2020. The movie was initially slated to be released on November 25, 2020, but the slot was given to the Pixar film Soul after its original release was pushed back because of the pandemic. Despite the shutdown, the team working on the upcoming Disney feature has been able to push through with the help of video calls and working remotely in order to get everything ready for the movie's March 12, 2021 release date.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings - May 7, 2021
Next on Awkwafina's list of upcoming projects, the Golden Globe winner will star in her first Marvel Cinematic Universe film when she appears in the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Not much is known about the cast except for the casting of Simu Liu as Shangi-Chi and Tony Leung as the Mandarin, the leader of the Ten Rings terrorist organization who also has a strong connection to the titular character. Awkwafina, Ronny Chieng, and Michelle Yeoh are all part of the cast as well, but Marvel and director Destin Daniel Cretton are being tight-lipped at this point in production.
Filming got underway in early 2020 at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, but the production was temporarily shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and didn't pick back up until August after the cast and crew had returned to Sydney and completed their mandated quarantines. The film was originally supposed to be released on February 12, 2021 to coincide with the start of the Chinese New Year, but delays forced Marvel Studios to push back all theatrical releases, resulting in Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings getting a new release date of May 7, 2021.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge On The Run - 2021
Technically The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run is already out in theaters (in Canada), but fans of the latest adaptation of the classic Nickelodeon cartoon will have to wait until some point in 2021 when it premieres on CBS All Access instead of having a traditional run at the local movie theater. Now that we have all of that confusing business out of the way, the third SpongeBob movie will follow everyone's favorite Krabby Patty burger-flipper and his best friend Patrick as they embark on a rescue mission to save Gary that takes them to the Lost City of Atlantic City.
In addition to the SpongeBob mainstays like the titular Bob, Patrick, Gary and the rest of the residents of Bikini Bottom, Sponge on the Run also features none other than Awkwafina, who portrays Otto, a robot who joins the main characters on their epic journey and serves as SpongeBob's personal boat driver. We'll have to wait until next year (unless you're in Canada) to see what Otto has in store for everyone, but hopefully it's worth the wait.
Breaking News In Yuba County - TBD
The next project involving Awkwafina is the crime comedy-drama Breaking News in Yuba County, which centers around a woman who buries her husband's body after he suffers a heart attack caused by her catching him in bed with another woman. In the film, Oscar winner Allison Janney plays Sue Bottoms, a quiet woman who becomes somewhat of a celebrity after the local community starts a search party for her presumed-missing husband. Breaking News in Yuba County also stars Mila Kunis, Regina Hall and Awkwafina, to name a few.
First announced back in late 2018, Breaking News in Yuba County entered production in June 2019, according to Deadline, but not so much of a peep has been made about how and when it will be released to audiences. With a star-studded cast and the director of hits like The Help, The Girl on the Train and Ma, it's strange that the movie hasn't seen the light of day well over a year since shooting first got underway.
The Little Mermaid - TBD
Disney released its latest live-action remake, Mulan, on Disney+ in September 2020, but the House of Mouse always has something up its sleeve next. In this case, that happens to be The Little Mermaid. The new version of the Disney animated classic boasts a stacked live-action cast anchored by Halle Bailey as Ariel, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula and Javier Bardem as King Triton. The voice cast includes Hamilton's Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Jacob Tremblay as Founder, and Awkwafina as Scuttle, the dim-witted bird who gives Ariel highly inaccurate descriptions of everyday objects.
Production on The Little Mermaid was supposed to get underway in spring 2020, but Disney shut things down just 10 days before filming was set to begin due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. There is no word on when The Little Mermaid will be released at this point.
The Baccarat Machine - TBD
Awkwafina is no stranger to the crime genre thanks to her great performance in 2018's Ocean's 8, in which she played Constance, the loudmouthed pickpocket, and she'll pick up where she left off in the upcoming drama The Baccarat Machine. According to Variety, Awkwafina signed on in February 2020 to star in the gambling thriller inspired by Michael Kaplan's 2017 Cigar Aficionado article of the same name. The Golden Globe winner will portray Cheung Yin Sun, who, along with poker player Phil Ivey, amassed a fortune at casinos around the world by recognizing the differences in edges of cards. There are currently no other details regarding this project.
Shelly - TBD
Anyone who like the pairing of Awkwafina and Karen Gillan in Jumanji: The Next Level is in for some good news, as the two stars will soon be teaming up once more in the action-comedy Shelly. The movie centers around Awkwafina's Shelly, a cutthroat assassin who returns to her hometown only to discover that her next target is Karen Gillan's Dianna Park, who pulled a traumatic prank on her in high school. Like pretty much every other movie like this, Shelly and Dianna will team up and take on another group of hitmen and become friends in the process.
Amazon Studios announced in September 2020 that it had picked up the project that is being written by Michael Doneger and directed by Liz Storm, though there was no word on when the rest of the cast will be announced or when shooting is expected to get underway. It also remains unclear if Shelly will receive a theatrical release or head straight to Prime Video at some point next year.
Crazy Rich Asians Sequel - TBD
The world was taken by storm by the shockingly refreshing romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians, and before the dust had even settled, there was talk of adapting Kevin Kwan's followup novels, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems, back-to-back. Seems great, right? Well, a little more than a year after audiences fell in love with the story of Rachel Chu and Nick Young, the project was dealt a blow when Adele Lim, one of the writers of the original adaptation, announced that she was leaving the project due to an unequal pay dispute. That combined with the COVID-19 pandemic makes it seem like we'll be waiting for an extended period of time before we see the next chapters in the Crazy Rich Asians franchise.
It is a bummer that we will most likely have to wait a long time before we see Awkwafina's Peik Lin Goh or any other character from Crazy Rich Asians, but there are plenty of movies featuring the rapper-turned-actor coming up in the next year or so to get us by. And if you want to know what other movies are coming out next year, check out CinemaBlend's 2021 New Movie release guide for all the latest information.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.