Photo: David Livingston/WireImage
Constance Wu has been performing all her life. The actress, who led the box office darling boobies rich asian and later became an unexpected star in scammers, found herself making her biggest scene when she shared a series of strongly worded tweets after the surprise season six renewal of the show that made her famous, ABC’s Fresh off the boat. Her behavior, which she tackles head-on in her new memoir, Create a scene, which comes out today, gave her a reputation as a diva, and now, more than three years later, she’s ready to explain herself. Throughout the book, Wu describes some of the most difficult and heartbreaking moments of her life, sometimes in the form of memoirs, sometimes adopting the role of a screenwriter with screenplays telling the story of her life. Wu wrote Create a scene to give context to his “great feelings,” including some early-life indignities, later traumas, and self-analysis. Below are eight stories that reveal it all.
Whereas Create a scene details the most difficult and traumatic times in Wu’s life, she says the one that “hurts the most”, occurred in eighth grade when she was accused of plagiarism. Wu’s teacher, described as having “the sassy attitude of Elaine Stritch and the self-satisfied charm of Fran Drescher”, gave the class their first writing assignment, and when it came time to turn in their homework, the Wu’s opening paragraph on Beethoven was deemed too good. “You’re not good enough to have written this,” asserts Wu, which his teacher told him. When she couldn’t find proof of plagiarism, the teacher asked Wu’s other teachers if they thought she could have written it. Notably, the only one who said he believed she could was the drama teacher. “So it is why I became an actor,” says Wu. “Of course I did.”
The daughter of two Taiwanese immigrants, Wu grew up in suburban Virginia. Although she’s one of the few Asians in her town, she says she didn’t always assert her “Asianism” very strongly, and resented the on-screen Asian characters who spoke with accents. “It was like in that movie jurassic park when they discovered the T. rex can’t see you if you don’t move,” she writes. “Every time an Asian drew attention to their Asian side on TV, it was like running in front of a tyrannosaur. Shut up! Leave! I wanted to yell at them. Stop making us look bad.“Not until she’s thrown away Fresh off the boat as Jessica Huang, a Taiwanese mother who has an accent, Wu was able to embrace her identity. “The sweetest point of all was his Asian side – his demeanor, his values, his accent,” she writes. “She wasn’t trying to avoid the T. rex; she taunted him.
Wu grew to love the character – not despite his “stereotypical” qualities, but because of them. “There are real people who genuinely embody stereotypical attributes – they’re our mothers and fathers, our uncles and aunts, our smart cousins - I don’t want to hide their voices or their stories,” she explains. . “Stereotypes are not harmful for their mere existence; they are harmful to their reduction of a person or a group”.
Fresh off the boat was an innovative sitcom for its portrayal of an Asian American family, but that doesn’t mean working on set was easy. One of the most heartbreaking moments in Wu’s memoir is her description of her work with an abusive producer she calls M—. She describes it as an authoritarian man: he would have forced Wu to fire his agent in favor of the one he preferred, would have told him to wear shorter skirts and repeatedly told him, “You do as I say.” The story of their time together culminates in a scene, written in script form, which is an amalgamation of a few stories. In the scene, M— persuades Wu to go to a Lakers game with him, then allegedly touches her against her will. He puts his hand on her thigh, Wu asserts, saying, “Your skin is so soft.” So, “She spreads her hand in a non-threatening and playful manner. M— smiles and tightens his grip, moving his hand further to her inner thigh..” At the end of the day, “She tries again to push his hand away. He moves it until it brushes her thigh.” When Wu forcefully told him to stop, he would have tells her she has big arms.
Perhaps the most publicized Wu story happened when Fresh off the boat has surprisingly been renewed for a sixth season. In response, Wu tweeted, “So upset right now that I’m literally crying. Ugh. Damn,” followed by a series of other negative tweets about the show’s renewal. “Suddenly everything I had been holding back for so long flooded the atmosphere and I felt like the hot tomato in the microwave again,” she wrote in her book. “I didn’t care how I sounded; I just needed to finally make a sound.”
The overwhelming and extremely negative response to her tweets, which included several DMs from a former colleague berating her, left Wu feeling completely “helpless and hopeless”. After a friend found her “gripping the balcony railing of my fifth-floor apartment and staring down the New York street below in such utter reckless desperation that my body ceased to be a body and became a sound so dangerously high-pitched it was like nails on a board,” she ended up in the hospital. Despite this, she didn’t actually check in because she didn’t want her “stay in hospital becomes a new one.” Instead, she slept on a cot in the waiting room. Although she says she never came close to harming herself because of the reaction to her tweets, she started therapy.
One of her “very upset former colleagues” sent DMs to Wu calling her “a blight on the Asian American community.” “Although I haven’t seen or spoken to her in over a decade, she DMed back after DM shaming me,” Wu says. “She told me the show had been his son’s favorite and that I had ruined it for him and that no matter what I did, I could never, ever make it up.” This response was extremely difficult for Wu. “Why wouldn’t she believe my remorse?” she asks in the book. “That I suffered as much as she thought I deserved to suffer?” discuss about View on October 4, Wu referred to the woman as an actress, sparking speculation online.
One of the hardest essays to read in book detail The rape of Wu at age 22. She describes a date with a 36-year-old man who, after ‘playing dumb’, started putting on a condom, ‘a clear cue for sex – which I did’. not want.” Then, although she repeatedly told him she didn’t want to have sex with him, he raped her. Afterwards, he gave her a 20-page medieval-fantasy manuscript he had written for her after their first date titled “The Beating Heart of the Forest”. Wu says she blocked the story from her mind until one day it all came back. “I was on a plane from Singapore, where I had finished filming boobies rich asian,” she wrote. “I had just woken up from a nap when the realization hit me like a flood. It was rape. Despite that, ‘I couldn’t call it ‘rape'” for a long time. Now, with the help of her therapist, Wu is ready to say what it was like. “I didn’t consent to sex. It may not have been violent, but it was rape. Period.”
If Wu is known to be tough, then Create a scenethe intention of is not to completely deny his behavior but to explain it. Wu says a lot of his difficult behavior on set had to do with M—’s inappropriate behavior. “But repressed feelings don’t go away just because you want them to, and they inevitably show up in other ways: paranoia, jealousy, isolation,” she writes. “Unusual and illogical behavior followed.” This included a time when she blew up on her co-star Randall Park after doing a radio interview she was supposed to be in but got kicked out of. It wasn’t Park’s fault, she admits, “but I stayed upset, punished him for days by pouting every time he came near me.”
One of the most surprising moments of Create a scene This is when Wu apologizes for his own case of sexual harassment. “I am guilty of sexual harassment. Of being the stalker,” she said. “I had a problem: I couldn’t stop myself from writing the word penis.” It turns out that during Fresh off the boatWu got angry one day that the word boobs was a response to a joke, so she decided that if breasts were jokes, then penises should be too. She wrote the word penis very regularly while playing Jessica Huang: “Every time you saw my character writing on a notepad, signing a check or making a shopping list, I would write the word penis again and again.” Then someone on the crew complained that it was “inappropriate,” and one of the producers had to ask Wu to stop. Now she’s so sorry for putting someone else in an uncomfortable situation. “I apologize and acknowledge the problem,” she said. “It’s a sincere apology. From the bottom of my breasts, I’m sorry.
This post has been updated throughout.
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