Constance Wu has some things to say about Asian stereotypes in Hollywood, and we’re listening
It’s hard not to love Constance Wu’s role in ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, for which she’s been called a breakout star. In a recent interview with Allure, Constance talked about the Asian stereotypes in Hollywood she’s forced to face on a regular basis, because the unfortunate truth is Asian individuals are wildly underrepresented in the media.
Constance grew up in Richmond, VA and her family is Chinese-Taiwanese. She recalls that she grew up in a predominantly white area. All the books Constance was given at school “featured white children and an animal…and as you got older the novels you were assigned were about, like, the problems of white boys and their dogs.”
Soon enough, she realized that there were very few people on TV and in the movies that looked like her, which is why she looked up so much to figure skater Michelle Kwan, one of the few Asian women to be widely recognized and respected in the public sphere.
Later on, at the start of her acting career, Constance shared that she was exclusively given supporting roles.
"I’d always booked television work, but I’d always been...the best friend or the assistant to the white person. And I was grateful and happy for that. I wasn’t forced to think about it, because I was placated to the point of satisfaction," Constance recalled.
That’s why Fresh Off the Boat is such a game changer. “Fresh Off the Boat is the first Asian-American television show led by [an] Asian-American [family] in over 20 years,” Constance said. She’s happy that the Asian-American experience is being shown on television in such a big way.
"I wish reporters were more in tune to the difference between the Asian experience and the Asian-American experience. I think often they lump the two together," Constance said.
She’s tired of people referring to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Mulan when referring to the fact that Asians have different experiences in America than white people do. Because being Asian-American and being Asian aren’t the same things.
“We are told that we should be placated by those stories, even though they aren’t our stories,” Constance insisted. She also reminded us that there isn’t a single mainstream movie in the last decade that’s Asian-American, which proves that Asians aren’t given enough screen time.
“And a lot of times people think of Asian culture as some mythical world, instead of modern people with modern occupations with modern problems, modern tools, and modern occupations,” Constance told Allure. “Like we’re not all just talking Taoism and kung fu — some people are just trying to get over their breakup with their boyfriend, and they’re Facebook stalking.”
She couldn’t be more right. We can’t wait to see what other kind of amazing work Constance does in Hollywood!