If you don’t know the name Constance Wu, it’s high time you familiarize yourself with it because you’re going to be seeing it a lot more. The 34-year-old actress is turning heads right now thanks to hits like Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians, but she had several roles before those two – like a stint on soap opera One Life to Live in 2007 and EastSiders. But we have a feeling this is just the start of her campaign as a Hollywood A-lister.
Get to know Constance by taking a look at 16 interesting facts about the star.
1. Her family emigrated from Taiwan.
Constance’s parents both emigrated from Taiwan. The actress revealed that her father’s parents were “illiterate bamboo farmers” in the country. Her dad came to America and worked his way up until he achieved a Ph.D. He’s now a science professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. Constance herself grew up in Richmond, Virginia.
2. She graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts.
Her dad might be into science, but it’s the arts that Constance has a passion for. (That should come as no surprise.) The actress attended the State University of New York at Purchase’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting in 2005.
3. She isn’t afraid to speak out about Hollywood’s lack of diversity.
Crazy Rich Asians has helped open up a dialogue about diversity, but it’s a topic that Constance has been addressing in interviews and on social media for as long as she has had a platform. The actress spoke out before the film’s release. She shared a letter on Twitter about the lack of Asian characters and why progress has been so slow. She wrote, “Suddenly, with Fresh Off the Boat‘s success, people were talking about the lack of Asian-American stories. Why had it taken 20 years? Why hadn’t anyone been talking about the lack of stories before?”
4. She started in theater.
Like a number of aspiring actresses, Constance honed her craft at the theater. She was performing in the local theater while she was in high school. What’s more, she was involved in a program at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. She has previously talked about her passion for musicals and she has admitted she’d love to perform in one.
5. She made her big and small screen debuts in 2006.
Just a year after graduating from college, Constance got to add TV and film credits to resume. She appeared as Candy in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and nabbed the role of Jenn in the 2006 film What She Knew (originally called Stephanie Daley outside the US). The film focused on teenage pregnancy and featured Tilda Swinton, Amber Tamblyn and Melissa Leo.
6. She wore her prom dress on the red carpet.
Do you still have your prom dress hanging in the back of your closet? Would you ever wear it on a red carpet? A lot of people would cringe at the idea, but Constance did it. She wore her prom dress to the 2016 Creative Emmy Awards (pictured above). She confirmed it on Instagram and revealed that she accessorized the frock with “a choker made from the ribbon off a gift box.” Talk about #stylegoals.
7. She was thousands in debt before she got her big break.
Being heavily in debt can be a common occurrence for an aspiring actor — or anyone looking for a big break in their career. Constance talked to Vulture about her move from New York to LA before she made it big. “I was in tens of thousands of dollars in debt: Credit card. Car. Personal. Student loans. I paid for my college all myself.”
8. She got her Fresh Off the Boat role after participating in a failed comedy pilot.
It goes to show you that when one door closes another opens. Constance was part of a failed comedy pilot before she nabbed the lead female role in Fresh Off the Boat. In an announcement for the sitcom, Deadline revealed that Constance was part of Browsers, an Amazon comedy pilot that looked at four young people starting their first jobs at a news website. Curious? You can see previews online, but the show never got picked up.
9. She was a part of a webseries that got picked up by Netflix.
If you’ve followed Constance’s career for a few years, you might know that she has been involved in EastSiders. It premiered on YouTube in 2012 and is described as a “dark comedy” which follows the relationships between two couples. Constance plays Kathy, a woman who is in her longest relationship ever. After the first two seasons were on YouTube, the show was funded by a Kickstarter campaign before it was sold to Netflix in 2017.
10. She initially turned down Crazy Rich Asians.
It’s hard to believe that anyone would ever turn down the lead in a movie, especially one as successful as Crazy Rich Asians, but Constance did. The reason was due to scheduling conflicts. After turning down the role, Constance wrote a heartfelt note to director Jon M. Chu, who had wanted her for the part. She said, “Dates are dates, and if those are unmovable, I understand. But I would put all of my heart, hope, humor and courage into the role. What all this could do means so much to me. It’s why I advocate so much for young Asian-American girls, so they might not spend their life feeling small or being commanded to be grateful to even be at the table.” He was touched by the letter and moved production by five months. And you know the rest.
11. She isn’t afraid to call people out.
If you follow Constance on Twitter, you will know that the girl isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She’s candid about politics, representation and inequality. For example, she was one of the first people to speak out about Casey Affleck‘s Oscar nomination after he was accused of sexual misconduct. And she made it clear that she didn’t care whether it would hurt her career.
12. She almost gave up on acting.
As with a lot of actors and actresses, Constance went through a period where she debated about continuing to chase her acting dreams. During that time, she briefly left her theater work behind to study psycholinguistics, which she deemed a “more practical career.” Luckily, she thought that it didn’t feel right and she returned to her passion.
13. She has some directing credits to her name.
Constance has a number of varied credits to her name. Besides movie and TV credits, she has a director and writer credit thanks to My Mother is Not a Fish. The short film was from 2013 and starred Tara Buck, Abraham Benrubi and Yin Chang. The drama-fantasy looked at a man reconnecting with his teenage son after a messy divorce and custody battle.
14. The #StarringConstanceWu hashtag was started to highlight representation.
There are some questionable memes out there, but the #StarringConstanceWu meme is a brilliant one. It seeks to raise attention about the lack of Asian characters and actors. The meme has people Photoshopping Constance into different movie posters and film scenes. There are countless examples including her being Photoshopped to be Wonder Woman, James Bond and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games.
15. She didn’t go out with her co-workers during filming Crazy Rich Asians because she wanted to be on top of her game the next day.
How’s this for dedication? Constance revealed in an interview with the New York Times that she didn’t go out to sing karaoke or for drinks with her Crazy Rich Asians co-stars because she wanted to be able to do her absolute best at work. She knew the opportunity to be the lead female was important for an Asian-American actress and she wanted a clear head. She pointed out, “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.”
16. She Was a Founding Member of the #TimesUp movement.
This shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering her words on Casey Affleck, but her participation in creating the movement is often overlooked. The #TimesUp movement was founded in January 2018 in light of the Harvey Weinstein allegations and #MeToo. #TimesUp aims to stop sexual harassment and inequality in the workplace. To go along with it, Constance spoke out at the Women’s March in Los Angeles.