Born/Date of Birth: March 22, 1982
Place of Birth: Richmond, Virginia, United States
Height: 5 ft 1 in (155 cm)
Alma mater: State University of New York, Purchase (BFA)
Constance Wu (born March 22, 1982) is an American actress. She stars as Jessica Huang in the ABC television comedy Fresh Off the Boat (2015–2020), which is her breakthrough role. She has been nominated for two TCA Awards and four Critics' Choice Television Awards for Fresh Off the Boat.
In film, Wu was further lauded for her role as Rachel Chu in the 2018 romantic comedy-drama film Crazy Rich Asians, for which she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, among others. She became the fourth Asian woman to be nominated for the former category and the first Asian actress in 40 years to be nominated for said category. In 2019, she starred in the crime comedy film Hustlers.
In 2017, Wu was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
Early life and education
Constance Wu was born in Richmond, Virginia. Her parents emigrated from Taiwan. Her father, Fang-Sheng Wu, is a biology and genetics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and her mother is a computer programmer. Wu said that her paternal grandparents were very poor, working as bamboo farmers, and did not have the opportunity to get an education, so they were unable to read and write. She is the third of four daughters.
She graduated from Douglas S. Freeman High School, in Henrico County, where she began performing in local theater; she participated in a six-month program during high school at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Wu later graduated from State University of New York at Purchase's Conservatory of Theatre Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting in 2005. Wu cited Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee as an influence. After college, Wu studied psycholinguistics and considered pursuing a graduate degree program in speech pathology at Columbia University before deciding to pursue a career in acting and moving to Los Angeles.
In New York City, Wu got roles onstage and in independent movies. She made her screen debut with a supporting role in Stephanie Daley (2006). She also had later supporting roles in Year of the Fish and The Architect. On television, she appeared in episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Torchwood, and Covert Affairs, and also had a recurring role as Laudine Lee on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live in 2007. In an interview, Wu stated that she impulsively decided to move to Los Angeles from New York in 2010 after a heartbreak. In Los Angeles, she was cast in Sound of My Voice, directed by Brit Marling.
From 2012 to 2017, Wu starred in the web series EastSiders. She won two Indie Series Awards, both for Best Ensemble - Drama in 2014 and 2016. She was also nominated for two Indie Series Awards, one for Best Supporting Actress - Drama and the other for Best Guest Actress - Drama in those same years.
In 2014, Wu participated in Sundance Screenwriters' Lab with two emerging Asian-American directors, Yung Chang and Christopher Yogi, in what she felt was a unique opportunity to support fellow Asian storytellers.
In 2014, after landing a role in one unsuccessful comedy pilot, Wu won the leading role in the ABC comedy series Fresh Off the Boat alongside Randall Park. The series is loosely based on the life of chef and food personality Eddie Huang and his book Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir. The series premiered in 2015, and Wu received critical acclaim for her performance. E! named her a breakout star of the 2014-15 television season. For her role as Jessica Huang, she received four nominations for The Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series and two Television Critics Association TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy.
In 2017, she appeared in the Hulu anthology series, Dimension 404, and was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
In February 2017, it was announced that Wu had been set to star in Jon M. Chu's adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians, based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan. The film was released in the United States and Canada on August 15, 2018, by Warner Bros., and is the first major Hollywood studio film to feature an all-Asian cast since 1993's The Joy Luck Club. The film was a critical and commercial success and emerged as the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade, grossing over $238 million. Wu received critical acclaim for her performance and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, A Satellite Award, two Critics' Choice Movie Awards and two NAACP Image Awards. The film itself won the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Comedy.
In November 2018, Wu starred in a short animated film Crow: The Legend as Skunk.
In May 2019, Fresh Off the Boat was renewed for a 6th season. On the show's Instagram page when announcing its renewal in a post, Wu commented “Dislike”, and then continued to voice her displeasure for the show's renewal with profanity-laden Twitter posts, which led many to speculate about the reasoning behind Wu's acts. She later made a statement clarifying her comments, explaining that her disappointment over the show's renewal was due to her subsequently having to pull out of another project that she was "really passionate about," and further stating that she loved her sitcom castmates and harbored no animosity toward them. She went on to explain that she felt her role on Fresh Off the Boat had become "easy and pleasant," and she was looking for further challenges, which she felt the new project would have provided.
In 2019, the actress starred alongside Jennifer Lopez in the crime comedy film Hustlers, following a group of Manhattan strippers who rob wealthy men. The film opened on September 13, 2019, and became a box office success, grossing over $157 million worldwide and receiving positive reviews from critics. Wu worked at a strip club undercover to prepare for the role.
Wu revealed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon that she has signed on to reprise her role as Rachel Chu in both sequels to Crazy Rich Asians titled China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems set for back-to-back filming in 2020.
In June 2019, it was announced that Wu would play the leading role in a film titled Goodbye Vitamin, based on the debut novel of Rachel Khong. The film will be distributed by Universal Pictures and Wu will serve as an executive producer on the film. Also in 2019, Wu starred in the independent drama film I Was a Simple Man.
Wu lives in Los Angeles with her pet rabbit, Lida Rose.
She is an activist regarding Asian representation in the U.S. media, and she has expressed her support towards bringing more diversity into the film industry. Wu has shared her stories regarding times that she had been refused roles due to her racial ethnicity, and she is hoping that her success in the U.S. film industry would pave more paths for diverse representation in the film industry. The #StarringConstanceWu hashtag meme, adopted by Asian-American activists, inserts Wu's image into film promotional materials in order to highlight the paucity of Asian actors in starring roles.
In 2017, Wu worked with Miry's List, an organization that provides essential kits to newly arrived immigrants and refugee families in Southern California. In an interview with Teen Vogue, she spoke about why she chose to work with that organization. Wu stated that she admires "people with the courage to make an immigrant journey in search of peace, safety and well-being for their families. I want them to find that and I wanted to be active in my care."