Constance Wu
ADWEEK|October 8, 2018

With a hit movie and TV show, the Crazy Rich Asians star has been thrust into the spotlight. And she knows just what to do with it.

Jason Lynch

CONSTANCE WU CERTAINLY HAS EVERY REASON TO CELEBRATE RIGHT NOW. Her August romantic comedy, Crazy Rich Asians—Hollywood’s first major studio film in 25 years with a majority Asian-American and Asian cast—has become a smash hit, grossing more than $165 million domestically, with a sequel already in the works. But while Wu, 36, is thrilled about the movie’s success, she wants to make sure that Hollywood continues to address its considerable lack of Asian-American representation on both sides of the camera, and not think that one hit movie makes up for decades of neglect.

“It’s like how sometimes I will be like, ‘All right, I’ve cleaned my kitchen. I’m done; the kitchen is clean.’ But it’s not! It takes maintenance,” Wu says. “Life goes on after that, and you’re going to have to keep cleaning. A lot of people have this idea of, ‘I finished this big thing; it’s done forever.’ And that’s not how anything works at all!”

Wu has made a career out of helping correct Hollywood’s decades of cultural negligence. Three years before Crazy Rich Asians—in which she plays Rachel, an NYU economics professor who discovers that her boyfriend (Henry Golding) is a member of one of Singapore’s most successful families—Wu began starring in Fresh Off the Boat, the first U.S. prime-time sitcom about an Asian-American family in two decades. The ABC series was a success, with Wu’s performance as fearsome-yet-loving matriarch Jessica Huang singled out in particular, but the actress—who had never appeared on a TV show before—struggled with her newfound fame. “It messed me up emotionally in a way I didn’t even understand that caught up to me later,” she says. “It’s really lonely, because it’s the type of strain that you’re incredibly privileged to have, and therefore it’s even harder to talk about it, because you never want to seem ungrateful.”

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