Constance Wu was not always aware of the lack of Asian representation in Hollywood, reports Yahoo!. During her appearance at BUILD on Tuesday, she opened up about believing that the reason she wasn’t getting chosen for roles was because of her looks or talent, and not because of her ethnicity.
Wu thanked her upbringing and hometown for not realizing how her race would cost her.
“I grew up in Richmond, Va. My high school mascot is a rebel holding the confederate flag. I grew up in a very white area. And I’m sure in terms of institutional bias, of course that affected [me]. But Richmond’s also a really friendly, polite place so I never got any blatant bullying.”
Since she was never outright treated differently because of her race, she believed that not accomplishing or succeeding at something was due to other reasons.
“If I didn’t get a part, I never thought it was because I was Asian. I was like, ‘well, I’m not pretty enough or I’m not a good enough actor.’ That’s what I always would think.”
It was when she was cast in Fresh Off the Boat that she really started opening her eyes to just how much Asians are underrepresented in the entertainment industry. Her most recent film, Crazy Rich Asians, has also taught her a lot about diversity.
“I’ve learned how it makes people feel when not just their faces are reflected on screen but their stories, how that affects confidence, character,” Yahoo! cites.
She also spoke about how during the screenings of both Fresh Off the Boat and Crazy Rich Asians, she noticed that audiences were crying. Wu commented that she believed people were crying because they had just never felt seen before. Although she realizes that not everyone can be represented, she reportedly has a plan.
“What it taught me is that if you do one and you do it really well, they will make more.”
She used Dr. Ken as an example. Starring her Crazy Rich Asians co-star Ken Jeong, the sitcom was given the go-ahead after Fresh Off the Boat was proven to be very successful.
Director of Crazy Rich Asians, Jon M. Chu, echoed this sentiment, according to The New York Times.
“If we make a decent showing on that first weekend, there are like six Asian-American lead movies set up at different studios. They’re not greenlit. Everyone’s waiting to see how this one does. But if this one does well, we’ll immediately have more chances. And if it doesn’t, we’ll just have to do it again.”
Crazy Rich Asians, which was released on August 15 in the United States, is a comedy starring Constance Wu as an Asian-American woman who travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family and realizes that they are incredibly wealthy. It was based on the best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan.