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Why Courtney From The Angry Birds Movie 2 Sounds So Familiar

When "The Angry Birds Movie 2" came out in 2019, it didn't do as well at the box office as the original, despite reviewers at publications like The A.V. Club and Deadline believing it might be the better movie. However, the film got a bit of a second life when it released on Netflix, becoming one of the streaming service's Top 10 for a time. Polygon theorized that this was because, as a stand-alone theatrical draw, the sequel was hurt by the first movie's mediocrity. As one of Netflix's many offerings, though, "brand recognition and laziness" helped turn the film into a hit. 

Whether or not you liked "The Angry Birds Movie 2," though, you can't deny that the voice cast is stellar. Not only did it bring back Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Bill Hader, and Danny McBride, but it diversified the fold to include stars like Leslie Jones, Jojo Siwa, Nicki Minaj, and Tiffany Haddish — whose voices you probably recognize but can't necessarily place when you're only hearing them coming out of a pig or bird's mouth. Among the new stars, the movie added Awkwafina to the mix as Courtney the pig. You've definitely heard (and seen) her before. Here's where. 

She played a titular character in Raya and the Last Dragon

Awkwafina, also known as Nora Lum, is a comedian, rapper, and personality as well as an actress, and she seems much in demand the past few years. The last time you heard her voice was probably in the Disney+ movie "Raya and the Last Dragon," which was released in March 2021 as a Premier Access title requiring an extra payment. She played Sisu, the mythical super-dragon who turns out to be a quirky, self-deprecating creature who can take human form and is a key player in Raya's (Kelly Marie Tran) quest to save her world from the Druun. 

The actress recorded most of her lines at home, in a giant tent set up in her living room. She told USA Today that she continued the recording while sequestered in Australia for the filming of her next big release, "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," which is due out September 3. Sisu's personality isn't so far removed from Awkwafina's, and she says it was strange to see Sisu onscreen with her voice coming out. "Disney borrows really, really subtle things from you. I saw there were parts of the eyes, and my teeth. It was like, man, I should go to a dentist," Awkwafina said. 

She played Ming Fleetfoot in Jumanji: The Next Level

In the sequel to 2017's "Jumanji," Awkwafina appears as herself, mostly, although she's playing other people who've taken on her character's avatar. The plot of the film has protagonist Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff) going back to the video-game world to relive his adventures as Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). However, things don't go as planned, and he ends up with a new avatar and character: Ming Fleetfoot, a cat burglar who has skill at sneaking around but is deathly allergic to pollen. Later, when the adventurers stumble upon a pool of water that allows them to change avatars, Spencer's grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) also becomes Ming for a time.

In a behind-the-scenes feature from the DVD release of "Jumanji: The Next Level," Awkwafina makes light of her spot-on impression of one of the industry's most prominent actors (via Cinemablend), saying, "You're not born with a voice like this to not play Danny DeVito at some point in your life."

She broke barriers for her portrayal of a Chinese daughter in The Farewell

While her movie appearances and voiceovers have certainly included big-budget people-pleasers, Awkwafina has also been critically acclaimed for her turn in 2019's "The Farewell," an independent film in Mandarin Chinese and English that won her a number of Best Actress awards, including a 2020 Golden Globe — making her the first Asian-American actress to receive that honor (via The New York Times). The dramedy, about a Chinese family that won't tell its matriarch that she has gotten a cancer diagnosis, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and then opened in a limited fashion with a higher per-theater average than "Avengers: Endgame," which is saying something (via Insider). Awkwafina plays Billi, the protagonist and granddaughter of the dying woman.

Awkwafina has said this was a challenging role for her, as she had to cry on film, speak in Chinese, a language she wasn't fluent in, and also go to China. Yet it was also very personal, as a result of her relationship with her grandmother. "I was raised by her from the time my mom passed away. When I saw the script, I cried. I never thought I'd see a movie like it, one that was very personal to me," she told Refinery29. She also said she had doubts regarding her identity: She is both Chinese and Korean. "Then there's a whole other personal journey that's like, 'Am I Asian enough? Am I American enough?' That was a very important emotion to carry though the movie," she said. "I was very concerned with shallow things like crying, my Chinese, my drama acting. But all that stuff goes out the window when you're there and you're feeling it."

She was a stand-out character in Crazy Rich Asians

Although Awkwafina first broke out on YouTube with the rap video "My Vag" in 2012, it was 2018 that changed things for her, thanks to an appearance as Constance in the heist film "Oceans 8," followed by the high-profile "Crazy Rich Asians," which made the actress more sought-after than ever. "Ever since I did 'Crazy Rich Asians,' I've had moments when I wake up and think it's all been a dream," she said in an InStyle essay from 2019. "It took a while for everything to really sink in. But I'm still the same me. It's not raining glitter. I still buy clothes at Target. I never really had a road map. This still feels like a rollercoaster ride that I hope will never end."

Rolling Stone called her the movie's "breakout star," noting that she stole every scene she was in. She played blonde Goh Peik-lin, the rich and hilarious best friend (and fashion consultant) of Constance Wu's character Rachel Chu in the film with an all-Asian cast that was compared to Marvel's "Black Panther" in terms of cultural significance and visibility within a white-dominated American entertainment industry. In the movie, her father, played by Ken Jeong, describes his daughter as "the Asian Ellen."

Awkwafina will be returning to voice acting for her next major project: She's playing Scuttle the seagull in Disney's live-action "The Little Mermaid." We'll definitely be hearing more of that distinctively raspy voice!