Constance Wu had been pointing out flaws in Hollywood for years but the world is just waking up to it now
The 36-year-old may be in the news now for her breakout role in the upcoming movie 'Crazy Rich Asians,' but she was a major Asian-American voice crying out against Hollywood's foul
Constance Wu is a force to be reckoned with and if you are hearing about her now because of the ongoing hype behind 'Crazy Rich Asians' then too bad, she was making waves with her statements and stances years before. Hollywood news is now dotted with headlines about what Wu wears, how she takes care of her skin and how she enhances her eyelashes but in 2017, she was already on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. What? Why? When? How? Let Lena Dunham answer for you. As one of the few Asian-American actors "tasked with being more than just an actor. And she takes this second gig just as seriously." Dunham even added that the 36-year-old "smart and expansive" actress is even better in person since she's never afraid to say exactly what's on her mind.
The daughter of immigrants, Wu was born into a Taiwanese-American family, who came to the US for education and profession. Her grandparents were bamboo farmers in Taiwan and could not read or write, but her father was a professor, who self-established himself in America, and her mother was a computer programmer. Born in Richmond, Virginia, she ventured into acting at a very young age with the introduction of theatre and she graduated with a degree of fine arts in acting in 2005. At the age of 18, Wu became financially independent but that was only the start of her difficult times. She was waitressing and had thousands to pay off for student loans. But when her then-boyfriend broke up with her, she decided to move to Los Angeles from New York. "It was the dumbest move I could have made, coming out here. But I did it," she told The New York Times in 2015 quoting Yoda “Do or do not. There is no ‘try."
Wu's stardom emerged with her breakout role as lead character Jessica Huang on the ABC series 'Fresh Off the Boat,' in 2015. She received multiple best actress in a comedy series nominations from the Broadcast Critics Association and Television Critics Association for her work. Prior to that, she was doing a recurring role on Hulu's Dimension 404. With her now major role as Rachel Chu in Hollywood's first film in 25 years featuring an all Asian cast in leading roles since 1993's 'The Joy Luck Club,' Wu has been in the spotlight. The woman of the hour is indeed someone you ought to know. However, in one of her previous interviews, she has clearly denied the need to be an "It Girl," where she questions "How come there's no “It” boy?" giving an example of Hollywood's ageism.
Just last week, Wu was hailed on social media for being this actress who isn't afraid to speak her mind and play fair. It was reported that Wu convinced director, John M. Chu to remove a troubling dialogue that had her character boasting about never dating Asian men. This may be only one dialogue but the impact it has is humungous since it directly refers to the problematic and toxic dating trend where Asian women denounce Asian men as an inferior dating choice. The director heeded to Wu's advice even if that meant straying a bit from Kevin Kwan's original book because that is who Wu is. “I'd rather lose all my stuff than lose myself,” Wu told Vulture in 2016.
Even her old interviews highlight the cause of Asian-American actors in Hollywood and till date, she is an avid speaker for inclusion. In one of her old interviews, she said; "I’d like to promote Asian-American stories, where the Asians carry the story and where being Asian-American is not the only part of their identity, but it’s a beautiful part of their identity that we want to show." Little did she know that her coming to LA, after her break up, would offer two opportunities that are making history for Asian representation in Hollywood. On July 31, she penned a strong tweet about the historical importance of 'Crazy Rich Asians,' emphasizing that the success of her ABC network show 'Fresh Off the Boat' paved the way for Asian American storytelling, and that 'Crazy Rich Asians' is changing racial dynamics in Hollywood, just like 'Fresh Off the Boat' did before it.
“CRA is the first Hollywood studio film in over 25 years to center an Asian American’s story. Before CRA, I hadn’t even done a tiny part in a studio film...I never dreamed I would get to star in one...because I had never seen that happen to someone who looked like me.” She added, “CRA is changing that, just like FOTB did. CRA not only centers an Asian American story, it is also filled with a talented, dynamic, unique, all-Asian cast.” In the same tweet, Wu also questioned why it took so long for Asians to be represented on screen in this way.
Constance Wu is also an adept Twitter user, who uses the platform to voice her opinions precisely and shut down the injustice in Tinsel Town. In 2016, she promptly called out the white-savior narrative that put Matt Damon at the center of the American-Chinese film 'The Great Wall.'
And then again in 2017, she tweeted to highlight the racism that led to Scarlett Johansson being chosen to play a Japanese character in 'Ghost in the Shell.' Wu has also ardently spoken against Hollywood's leading figures for dismissing sexual misconduct and awarding nominations despite scathing controversy. During the Women's March in LA, the actress marching alongside Natalie Portman and Viola Davis spoke out against the fetishization of Asians.
Her opinions on Hollywood's deep-rooted problem of "whitewashing" has made her one of the leading Asian-American voices holding the entertainment industry accountable, even if her career is at stake. But instead, the opposite happened and her fame is growing each day. She is fierce and unstoppable, but what makes her likable is that she has managed to stay true to herself, even when it comes to dressing casually on ordinary days, for example, when she gave the interview to Harper's Bazaar Singapore wearing a vintage tee.
Constance Wu will appear on our silver screens as Rachel Chu in the opulent romantic comedy, who accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. The plot unfurls when Rachel learns that Nick is "Prince Harry of Asia" and has a dark past. While the film is a milestone for Asian-Americans, Wu is aware that it still does not represent every Asian American. So in the long tweet she posted, she also wrote the purpose; “I hope Asian American kids watch CRA and realize that they can be the heroes of their own stories. I know CRA won’t represent every Asian American. So for those who don’t feel seen, I hope there is a story you find soon that does represent you. I am rooting for you.”