Awkwafina is set to star in SK Global upcoming feature The Baccarat Machine (working title) inspired by the true story of the most successful female gambler in modern history, Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun, and her unlikely partnership with legendary poker player Phil Ivey. This is Awkwafina’s second project with SK Global following her breakout in Warner Bros.’ Crazy Rich Asians.
The project is based on the Las Vegas insider Michael Kaplan article “The Baccarat Machine,” published in Cigar Aficionado, which follows young Chinese woman Sun as she painstakingly develops talent and obsession for payback into beating the system at their own game. With major casinos conspiring to bar her from their properties, Sun partners with the international “King of Poker” Phil Ivey in order to take down the system through subterfuge, ingenuity, and pure daring, resulting in one of the most ingenious legal gambling runs ever documented.
SKG Co-CEOs John Penotti and Charlie Corwin made the announcement today. SK Global is financing and producing The Baccarat Machine along with Jeffrey Sharp of Sharp Independent Pictures. Andy Bellin is writing the script. Talks with potential directors are currently underway as is additional casting.
Penotti states, “We can’t think of a better way to start this project than by announcing that our friend Awkwafina has come on board. She is uniquely equipped to bring Kelly to life onscreen and will infuse the role with genuine humor and humanity. Along with our partners at Sharp, we’re thrilled to bring this unbelievable story to the screen.”
Awkwafina recently won the Golden Globe for Best Lead Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her turn in Lulu Wang’s Indie Spirit Best Feature The Farewell. Awkwafina currently stars in Comedy Central’s new breakout comedy series Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens which was renewed for a second season, and she stars in Jumanji: The Next Level which has grossed over $768 million WW to date. She also starred in Warner Bros.’ Ocean’s 8 which made close to $300M WW.
Awkwafina is represented by UTA, Artists First, Kovert Creative, and Isaac Dunham of Shreck Rose.