Why Constance Wu Is Hopeful for On-Screen Diversity, Despite Hollywood's Track Record
Bestselling novel-turned-movie Crazy Rich Asians is readying for its big-screen debut in just two weeks, and no one could be more excited than the film’s female lead, Constance Wu.
The Fresh Off the Boat star took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to explain why the movie is so important to her and those of Asian descent around the world.
CRA is the first major studio film set in modern times to feature an all-Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club in 1993, a feat Wu is still pinching herself over.
“Before CRA, I hadn’t even done a tiny part in a studio film,” she writes. “I never dreamed I would get to star in one … because I had never seen that happen to someone who looked like me.”
Wu went on to cite barrier-breaking Selma director Ava DuVernay, who says, “I work in an industry that really has no regard for my voice and the voice of people like me and so, what do I do? Keep knocking on that door or build your own house?”
“My dear Asian American friends,” Wu continues, “we are building our own damn houses. We got the tools, the ability and we definitely got the style.”
A theatrical release (rather than a streaming release), was so important to director Jon Chu and the trilogy’s author, Kevin Kwan, that the duo turned down a lucrative Netflix deal to ensure that the film got the theatrical opening so many had longed to see.
“We were gifted this position to make a decision no one else can make, which is turning down the big payday for rolling the dice [on the box office]—but being invited to the big party, which is people paying money to go see us," Chu told The Hollywood Reporter.
It goes without saying, Asian representation in Hollywood is limited. A recent study from USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that of 2017’s top films, only 4.8% featured Asian characters (emphasis on “characters,” as they are not necessarily played by Asian actors) —37 of the year’s top 100 films featured no Asian characters with speaking parts. Of the same 100 films, 65 featured no Asian or Asian American females.
CRA will certainly help balance the scales in Hollywood, but as noted by Wu, there’s still a long way to go. “I hope Asian American kids watch CRA and realize that they can be the heroes of their own stories. I know CRA won’t represent every Asian American. So for those who don’t feel seen, I hope there is a story you find soon that does represent you. I am rooting for you. We’re not all the same, but we all have a story.”