Actress Constance Wu Writes Op-Ed Tackling Media Impact On Race & Body Image

She stars in ABC’s ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ and will be seen in the upcoming feature film ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, but as far as we’re concerned, actress Constance Wu’s best performances have been off-screen and IRL. Never one to shy away from commenting on a controversy and share her opinions, Constance has been known to call out Hollywood’s obsession with white-washing and perpetuating the “white male savior” archetype and status quo, using money as the reason to do so.

She spoke up about Matt Damon starring in the ‘Great Wall’ movie, saying money should no longer be used as an excuse for not casting more diverse actors in lead roles, and also added that she had no problem sharing her opinion even if it made her unpopular among certain groups of people.

“I know there are lotsa POC who honestly don’t care. Who think I’M being crazy. Well excuse me for caring about the images that little girls see, and what that implies to them about their limitations or possibilities. If you know a kid, you should care too. Because we WERE those kids. Why do you think it was so nice to see a nerdy white kid have a girl fall in love with him? Because you WERE that nerdy white kid who felt unloved. And seeing pictures of it in Hollywood’s stories made it feel possible. That’s why it moved you, that’s why it was a great story. Hollywood is supposed to be about making great stories. So make them,” she tweeted in July 2016.

Constance has also been very specific in the treatment of Asians in Hollywood on screen, especially in relation to the casting of Scarlett Johansson in ‘Ghost In The Shell’. In an interview with Vulture in June 2016, she says it goes much deeper than one single example, or even a few.

“Asian erasure is largely based in systemic bias and microaggression…I’ve gone into a lot of executives’ offices since this stuff has come out, and when I talked about it or when they bring it up, they start white mansplaining why I’m wrong and why I am dumb, and why they’re good people…Where studio executives I’ve met fall short is they don’t understand our hurt. I go into Asian-American executives’ offices, and they’re like, “Uh, you know we try, but it’s so hard,” and it’s like, Why has that ever been an excuse for doing something great? It’s like, Boo fucking hoo, a lot of shit is hard. Care more, make it matter,” she said.

And prior to the wave of women coming forward to expose sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein, Constance was among the most vocal people calling out Casey Affleck and his Oscar nomination (before he eventually won), after allegations about him harassing women on set were being reported in the media.

“He’s not running for Prez. He’s running for an award that honors a craft whose purpose is examining the dignity of the human experience, & young women are deeply human…Because in acting, human life matters. It’s why art exists. I know it’s just an award but I guess I’m in this career, not for awards, but because the treatment of human life matters to me. So I stand the f**k up for it,” she tweeted at the time.

The actress is clearly not done speaking and will use her opportunity in the spotlight to highlight issues that are important to her, knowing they affect so many others who may not have a voice like she does. In a recent op-ed for Allure magazine promoting the upcoming ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ movie, Constance spoke about media impact on her body image and self-worth, saying how it took a while for her to love who she was.

“When you’re a teenager, you take cues from your environment to find the metrics of how a culture measures a woman’s worth. And I saw billboards, magazines, TV shows that all equated breasts with beauty. So learning to be proud of my flat chest, to stop wearing padded bras — it was a real milestone for me. Now I love how small breasts look in certain clothes,” she said.

Explaining how she found her confidence while doing theater in high school because of the way it was generally a community made up of people who felt they didn’t belong in other areas, Constance says our physical appearance shouldn’t be what defines us.

“There are so many other ways, besides body type, to create your self-worth. Kindness, intelligence, wit, talent — this list goes on. I think that’s why, as teens, we try on different archetypal personalities to see what fits: the jock, the goth, the prom queen. It’s also where we find community,” she said.

She mentioned her recent time in Malaysia and Singapore where she filmed ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, and how an encounter at a beauty store made her realize that even within the diaspora of the Asian culture, there are standards that seek to diminish one’s own background in favor of more Euro-centric ideals.

“I’d go into skin-care stores, and there would be all these skin-whitening products. The salesgirls would push whitening products on me and try to fade my freckles. This comes from an old Asian cultural idea that dark skin signifies being in the fields and working-class. But I’m an American, and Americans are proud of our working-class roots. It signifies our heritage, and that’s not something to hide,” she said.

“I’m the granddaughter of Chinese bamboo farmers, the daughter of immigrants, the sister of an ultramarathoner (who runs for hours…in the sun!), and an American. I like my freckles and my natural skin color. It’s who I am,” she added, giving permission to so many others who feel trapped by narrow beauty standards when it comes to race embrace their own identity.

We love celebrities who use their platform to advocate for important issues and hope Constance continues to challenge the status quo in Hollywood. We’re seeing an uprising of intersectional women who are taking on the “old guard” and dismantling harmful ideals. If this is the new normal in the film industry, we like what we see!

 

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