That Asian comedy: Constance Wu gets emotional about the end of the series, Fresh Off the Boat
Constance Wu is popular for her portrayal of Jessica Huang in the American sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat.
She was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her work in Crazy Rich Asians, making her the fourth Asian woman to ever be nominated.
In 2017, Wu was included on an annual list of the most influential people in the world.
Here, she fondly looks back at the show that made her so popular, as it prepares to draw to a close...
When you express your displeasure about the show’s renewal, everyone was talking about it. You have since then tried to counter the criticism. Can you tell us how you feel?
Constance: I know people misunderstood my tweet where they thought that it meant that I didn’t love the show. But I love the show. I love the people on the show. I got upset that I couldn’t do the play.
But I mean, if you look at any of my tweets from the past six years about Fresh Off the Boat, I love it. I love the kids. I love the crew. And it is just a really peaceful happy job that I am really lucky to have.
It has been recently announced that this will be the last season of the show and you’ve finished shooting for it. What was the last day on the sets like?
Constance: Oh! I am going to start crying even now thinking about it. Talking about the final season makes me really sad. I absolutely love the cast and crew very much and it was really sad to say goodbye.
Would you like to reflect on what will you miss the most about the show?
Constance: I am surely going to miss the crew a lot, there are so many people that I can really talk about... starting with Randall of course, he’s just so funny and probably one of the nicest people to ever work with.
And Chelsea, she’s become such a wonderful friend of mine, the most supportive person in my life and not forgetting the boys. They are awesome. I am so proud of them for the young men that they’ve become because Hollywood could mess people up, and especially the kids.
The fact that they’ve survived with good heads on their shoulders and are being extremely compassionate, excited and driven for and towards their work. For that, I feel really happy for them.
Fresh Off the Boat is the first primetime show featuring an Asian family in nearly three decades. What mark do you hope that the series will leave on the world?
Constance: I hope the representation becomes the norm. When we first started, it felt like such a historical thing. Bringing something new to the audience that they will appreciate.
One day, I want people who are leading a normal life to look back and say, 'Oh, that was historic!' It is like a dream for me to hear that, and I think that it is actually happening slowly. Progress is definitely taking its shape.
At any point of time in your life when you might have taken a certain part in a movie and not made it through after three years of your acting career, what would you have done? Who would you have turned to when you felt despondent?
Constance: When I didn’t get a part, I didn’t call home or anybody to get comfort, because at that point of time, I felt like there was shame attached to it thinking employment is a measure of my self-worth and when somebody can’t get something that is the currency of self-worth, it is shameful.
I started feeling that I am worthy of nothing and love and why would they want me to call them, but this has passed me (laughs), though it still comes back sometimes.
After all, I have understood that my attachment to results would often trigger my shame and that is what kept me isolated, restricting me from reaching out for help.
But also, people who are ashamed do need a special connection, somebody to make you feel that you are loved and valued, and you do not need check-marks of success.
Thus, I have gotten over the idea that employment equals to self-worth, one of the reasons being that I am employed right now (laughs), I am in the privileged position where I can acquire employment in my chosen field and now I measure my self-worth with artistic merit and not financially.
How true do you think is this thought, ‘One cannot understand about fame until they’ve had it’?
Constance: First of all, it’s uncouth to even talk about it because it is a position that a lot of people cut out. So, even talking about it in a way that is complex can come off as ingratitude and I wouldn't want to be doing that because I am grateful for the tremendous opportunities that I get every day.
Sometimes, there is also a feeling of loneliness, paranoia and fear that one cannot just get over easily and it requires looking for strong places which I am still trying to fetch, but then I tell myself that I shouldn’t feel disheartened because people would kill to be in my position. and fear that one cannot just get over easily and it requires looking for strong places that I am still trying to fetch.
One part of me says that I shouldn’t show the ugly parts of fame because people would kill to be in my position, but the other part says that I want to break the myth of red carpet that includes Instagram, that is, the highlight reels of our lives because anybody’s life on Instagram looks perfect, which creates instant feeling of loneliness, we start to compare our lives with others and this is exactly why I think people choose an alternative called ‘art’ so they can show their vulnerable side and share common feelings which in turn makes them feel stronger.
But again, it takes courage to be that person as well. I am still trying to navigate how my public life should be like.
It used to be easy before when I believed that the life I lead should be aligned with my values and principles, but no, it’s not that easy.
It is questionable if one should cater and change their authenticity to somebody else’s reduction of them or continue being their authentic self.
All I feel is people like to believe the false life displayed Instagram. Taking care of yourself is more important than anything else which means not trying to expose your public life too much.
What do you have to say about the struggles that you’ve faced being an Asian-American?
Constance: The hardest part for me was to get a job. Being an Asian-American, there was 0% of any leading roles.
That was the moment where I had to decide whether getting a job was a measure of my self-worth or not and I asked myself if I would be okay waiting tables in my 50s in order to survive and I said yeah, that’s alright because there are many people out there doing a regular job without being passionate about it and trying to chase their dreams side by side.
I hear people saying they are glad not being a waitress, but for me, it is not a matter of shame, there’s nothing wrong being an actor and working as a waitress to pay the bills.
I also appreciate people having different ambitions to travel and being able to look after their family with better income so they lead a hassle-free life.
All I have to say is the choices that we make for ourselves should suit our needs ad comfort.
Fresh Off the Boat airs every Sunday at 7 pm on Star World.
— Team Indulge