CRAZY RICH CRUSADE. Constance Wu (top photo) plays Rachel
in the Warner Bros. Pictures, SK Global Entertainment, and
Starlight Culture contemporary romantic comedy Crazy Rich
Asians, which opened in theaters last week. Wu, a native of
Richmond, Virginia, knew how unlikely it was that she’d ever get
an opportunity as an Asian-American woman to lead a studio
movie, so she found a way to work in both Crazy Rich Asians
and her sitcom, "Fresh Off the Boat." Pictured in the bottom
photo are (L-R) Henry Golding as Nick, Wu, and Sonoya Mizuno as
Araminta. (Photos/Sanja Bucko, courtesy of Warner Bros.
Entertainment Inc. and Kimmel Distribution, LLC)
From The Asian Reporter, V28, #16 (August 20, 2018),
Wu’s fight for Crazy Rich Asians part
of a bigger crusade
By Lindsey Bahr
AP Film Writer
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Constance Wu had resigned herself to
the fact that Crazy Rich Asians was not going to work out
for her. She was under contract for her sitcom "Fresh Off the
Boat," both were filming in the fall, and that was that.
Crazy Rich Asians would be the first studio-made
Asian-American movie in 25 years, and Wu, who has established
herself as a crusader for Asian-American representation in
Hollywood, would have to sit this historic moment out.
But then, feeling "kind of dramatic," and thinking about the
significance of the project to her and an untold number of Asian
Americans who make it a point to tell her their stories because
of her tweets and "Fresh Off the Boat," Wu decided to give it
one last shot and composed an e-mail to Crazy Rich Asians
director Jon M. Chu.
"I said, I know the dates don’t work out and whoever you
cast, I will be the first in line and I will be their No. 1 fan
and supporter, but I did want to let you know that I would put
110 percent of my heart into this project and I know what to do
with it and how to carry a movie and if you can just wait for
me, I don’t think you’ll regret it," Wu, 36, said. "I did NOT
think this e-mail would work. I did it more for me so that I
felt that I had told my truth. But then he read it and said,
‘You guys, we’ve got to push the production.’"
Sitting in a restaurant at the Beverly Wilshire — a hotel
famous for co-starring in another Cinderella story,
Pretty Woman — and sipping on a "cocktail" of grapefruit
juice and sparkling water, Wu describes how Crazy Rich Asians
is also a kind of Cinderella story. Based on the first
book in author Kevin Kwan’s popular trilogy, Wu’s character,
Rachel Chu, is a middle-class economics professor from the U.S.
who finds herself navigating the upper echelons of Singapore’s
wealthy classes when her boyfriend, Nick Young, takes her home
for a wedding and to meet his disapproving family and all the
jealous women also vying for the attention of the "prince."
"It’s a fairytale, it really is," Wu said. "And there are a
lot of different shoes in the movie!"
A native of Richmond, Virginia, and a classically-trained
theater actress with a passion for musicals, Wu has been working
toward a moment like this her whole life, and taking it very
seriously. During the shoot, she wouldn’t go out with her
co-stars for karaoke nights or have a drink after a long day of
work. She wanted to be clear of mind and she’d already promised
her director that she was going to give it her all.
She knew how unlikely it was that she’d ever get an
opportunity as an Asian-American woman to lead a studio movie.
"Even a terrific actress like Sandra Oh was always No. 2 or
No. 3 in the movie, she was never No. 1 unless it was an
independent movie," said Wu, who is not shy about saying that
she only wants to go out for roles where she is the No. 1 star.
It’s a drive that has made some uncomfortable.
"People are like, ‘Who do you think you are?’ And it’s like,
I guess I think I’m a talented actor and I guess I’m not a
person who is going to let you make me feel small anymore," she
But Wu isn’t interested in making people feel comfortable at
the expense of her truth, which is why at least part of her time
is spent amplifying underrepresented voices on twitter, even
knowing that it’s affected her employment opportunities.
Wu once heard from a friend that her liberal boyfriend said
he didn’t like Wu’s politics.
"I’m like, ‘Does he not like my politics or does he not like
that I have politics?’ And she asked him and he was like, ‘Oh I
guess it’s that,’" Wu said.
Fame, she said, is silly in that regard. She thinks it’s
"dumb" that she has a bigger voice than other people, like
journalists or academics who are more studied in discourse on
race and intersectionality. But, she also realized that while
she has this platform, she can at least do some good with it.
Henry Golding, who plays Nick, is in awe of Wu’s fortitude.
"She’s such a role model for so many people. She has a
backbone, which a lot of people don’t. She’s not afraid of
saying what’s on her mind and really driving home what she
thinks should be done, or what’s not happening in the industry
that should be happening," said Golding. "She’s going to go down
as a real fighter and someone who can act the socks off
anything. She is Rachel Chu."
As for what’s next, Wu said she thinks she’s going to have a
lot of choices in the coming years.
"I’m very privileged and lucky and I’m at a point where I can
sort of get to decide where I want to go with my career," Wu
And first up on her wishlist? A musical.