American actress and rapper Nora Lum, professionally known as Awkwafina, is set to reunite with the producers of Crazy Rich Asians for their new feature film, The Baccarat Machine.
The new gambling drama is inspired by an article with the same title by Las Vegas insider Michael Kaplan on Cigar Aficionado and is based on actual events.
The film will follow the story of Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun, arguably the most successful female professional gambler in history, and her unlikely partnership with US poker pro Phil Ivey.
Through an elaborate technique known as edge sorting, the two players amassed millions of dollars in baccarat winnings at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City in 2012, which led to one of the most ingenious gambling-related legal battles ever recorded.
Uniquely Equipped to Bring Kelly on Screen
Awkwafina will star in the new movie as Kelly herself. The American rapper and actress last month made history after winning a Golden Globe in the Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy category for her lead role in The Farewell. She became the first winner of Asian descent to nab an award in that category.
Awkwafina currently stars in breakout comedy series Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens, which was recently renewed for a second season.
SK Global, along with Jeffrey Sharp of Sharp Independent Pictures, is on board to finance and produce The Baccarat Machine. Andy Bellin has been tasked with writing the script. Producers have been holding talks with potential directors. Additional casting is expected to be announced in the coming months.
SK Global Co-CEO John Penotti said that they “can’t think of a better way to start this project than by announcing that our friend Awkwafina has come on board.”
Mr. Penotti went on:
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.
A Revenge Story
News that Kelly Sun’s incredible story would be brought onto the silver screen first emerged last February. Back then, Mr. Penotti said that what they would tell would be an “exciting, high-stakes tale of cunning and revenge.”
In interviews, Sun has told journalists that she had been playing baccarat and slot machines in gambling dens around the world for many years. While mastering the games, she had blown more than $20 million of her father’s fortune. Sun is the daughter of a now deceased wealthy Hong Kong factory owner.
In 2007, Sun was arrested for an unpaid gambling debt of nearly $100,000 she owed to Las Vegas casino giant MGM Resorts International. The player spent three weeks in jail, where she was bullied by fellow prisoners and prison guards. She lost 25 pounds while serving her time. A family member paid MGM her debt and she was released.
Her terrible experience in prison motivated her to master edge sorting and take revenge on MGM by playing and winning millions on baccarat at the company’s properties. It should be noted that the Borgata, where Sun and Ivey won $9.6 million on baccarat in 2012, is owned namely by MGM.