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Constance Wu Reveals an On-Set Abuser Colored Her Response to ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ Cancellation

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 22: Constance Wu attends "The Terminal List" Los Angeles premiere at DGA Theater Complex on June 22, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

When Constance Wu expressed (and then doubled down on) frustration that Fresh Off the Boat (FOTB) was renewing for a six-season, many people didn’t like that. After Wu quickly followed up with an explanation that she wanted to do more challenging roles, I just took it at that and continued to look forward to Hustlers. Also, knowing the expendable way Hollywood treats women depending on their age and race, I understand her wanting to capitalize on the momentum in her career. However, while I moved on, many kept piling on, including a fellow Asian actress calling her a blight to her community, and now Wu is opening up the sexual harassment and intimidation attached to the set of FOTB.

Even among the more sympathetic pushback from women on The Real, they described her as “ungrateful.” Knowing the mental and emotional toll of being the only person that looks like you in a room, there was some nuance given to the fact that if Wu doesn’t want the role, a newcomer could come in. However, they didn’t like how Wu expressed herself. They agreed that these tweets were something that should’ve been DMed to a friend rather than aired in the public. Unbeknownst to them or any of the people with vile hate towards Wu, she did feel alone when she made those tweets.

***Content warning: This post discusses suicide, suicidal feelings, and sexual assault.***

Earlier this summer, Wu revealed that the backlash to those tweets included many Asian American peers suggesting (and at least one person outright saying) she would be better off dead because of the supposed harm she did the community as a whole. Wu did have one friend come and get her checked into an ER after she attempted to take her life, but she was mostly riding the media storm by herself until she got that help. Estranged from her closest family and held up as “the Asian woman” that was supposed to be grateful and humble, Wu was alone in that moment, and in the secret she carried as to the main reason she wanted to leave the show.

Wu opens up

From being one of the most visible women of color speakers at the (otherwise very white) inaugural Women’s March in 2018 to being an outspoken advocate for representation in Hollywood, Wu is no stranger to talking about difficult subjects in public. However, it’s really different when you’re speaking about something personal. In her debut book of essays, Making a Scene, she discusses burying a rape early in her career and then being chased by a senior producer on the set of FOTB.

Wu told Nightline:

My first couple years on Fresh Off The Boat, I was sexually harassed by a producer. I was intimidated and threatened a lot by him. It was my first ever network tv job. I was constantly terrified of being fired, and a the same time, Fresh Off The Boat was considered this bright, pinnacle of Asian American representation. My abuser on the show was an Asian American man. It really was a conflict for me because I didn’t want to stain the reputation of the one show Asian Americans had.

In that time that this producer was texting her inappropriate things and touching her, Wu said that he was also telling her that “[he] fought for her” and that no one believed she could lead the show. Though some people only really know her from Crazy Rich Asians, her success in Hollywood came after FOTB, and the Me Too movement wasn’t until three years into the show.

Wu told Seth Meyers this manipulation tactic wore off after a few seasons, but she still had to return to work with every renewal and face her abuser. Until her agent convinced her to include this story, it was something that she wanted to leave in the past. While some people may read her refusal to name him as a way of not harming one of the few Asian Americans with influence in Hollywood, she all but named him in the description in the book and in interviews.

If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a great resource: 988 (the new number). You can also text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or chat here.

(via Nightline, featured image: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

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(she/her) Award-winning digital artist and blogger with an interest in art, politics, identity, and history—especially when they all come together. This Texan balances book-buying blurs with liberal Libby use.