Actress Constance Wu’s explorative new memoir, “Making a Scene,” was released to the public on Wednesday, containing descriptions of her trauma and explanations for her confusing behavior and subsequent disappearance from social media.
Wu dives into workplace sexual harassment on the set of the sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat,” her controversial tweets and the subsequent backlash.
In the early years of her first big TV show, “Fresh Off the Boat,” Wu said that she experienced ongoing sexual harassment by one of the producers of the show.
In an interview with “Red Table Talk,” she describes instances in which this producer suggestively touched her and made comments that made her uncomfortable. She said that he asked her to wear shorter skirts and to keep her hair long, and intimidated her into his control, according to Vulture.
Instead of going to human resources, though, she opted to keep it to herself.
Of this decision, she told The Atlantic, “... It was the only show on network television in over 20 years to star Asian Americans, and I did not want to sully the reputation of the one show we had representing us.”
She went on to say that she felt more comfortable saying “no” to this producer once the show became more successful and her job was no longer in jeopardy. To “Red Table Talk” she expressed regret over not reporting the harassment to HR so that there’d be a record for future actors and actresses.
Wu said she thought she had overcome her feelings about the sexual harassment she faced on the set of “Fresh Off the Boat.” But when the show was renewed for its final season in 2019, she discovered otherwise, per BuzzFeed.
After it was announced that the show had been renewed, she tweeted, “So upset right now that I’m literally crying.” She followed up with more tweets condemning the show’s renewal.
The backlash and her mental health
People did not react kindly to her tweets, calling her spoiled, ungrateful and telling her she should suffer.
Wu said that a former Asian American colleague messaged her and said, “Nothing you could ever do would make up for your atrocious behavior and disgusting ingratitude.”
The colleague continued, “You sullied the one shining beacon of hope for Asian Americans. You’ve become a blight on the Asian American community.”
The sheer amount of intense backlash she received from both strangers and people she knew propelled her into a state of darkness. She fell into a depression so deep that she claimed she was not safe.
At the “Red Table Talk,” she shared that she “felt like the only thing that would prove to her (the colleague) that I felt as bad as she thought I deserved to feel would be if I died.”
Wu described the day that a friend saved her from potentially attempting suicide. She said, “A friend who had come to check on me pulled me over from climbing over the ledge and dragged me into the elevator and took me into a cab and took me to a psychiatric emergency room.”
She said that sought help and worked to heal herself, a process that included therapy and a break from acting.
Owning up to her behavior
In her memoir, Wu does not attempt to justify her actions. She owns up to her mistakes, even if they were provoked by traumatic experiences.
Most importantly, she takes back control of her own narrative.
Wu’s return to acting includes the upcoming movie “Lyle Lyle Crocodile” (out Oct. 7) and a role in the Amazon series “The Terminal List.”