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Constance Wu

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Constance Wu
Wu in 2019
Born (1982-03-22) March 22, 1982 (age 42)[1]
EducationState University of New York, Purchase (BFA)
Years active2006–present
PartnerRyan Kattner
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese吴恬敏

Constance Wu (born March 22, 1982) is an American actress. She starred as Jessica Huang in the ABC television comedy Fresh Off the Boat (2015–2020), which was her breakout role and earned her four nominations for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.[2]

She was further lauded for her role as Rachel Chu in the romantic comedy-drama film Crazy Rich Asians (2018) 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 first actress of Asian descent in over 40 years and the fourth overall to be nominated for the former category.[3] She subsequently starred in the crime drama film Hustlers (2019) and the film Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022). That same year, following a series of media controversy and mental health issues, she published her memoir, Making a Scene, to critical success.

Wu was included on Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2017.[4] She has earned several accolades, including nominations for a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and two TCA Awards. She has also received four nominations for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series, tying with Amy Poehler as the second most nominated actress in the category, behind Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Early life[edit]

Constance Wu was born in Richmond, Virginia.[5] Her parents emigrated from Taiwan.[6][7][8] Her father, Fang-Sheng Wu, is a biology and genetics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and her mother is a computer programmer.[9][10][11] 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.[12] She is the third of four daughters.[11]

She graduated from Douglas S. Freeman High School, in Henrico County, Virginia, where she performed in local theater. She participated in a six-month program during high school at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.[10] 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.[13][14] Wu has cited Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee as an influence.[15] After college, Wu studied psycholinguistics and considered pursuing a graduate degree in speech pathology[16] before deciding on acting and moving to Los Angeles.


Early work and Fresh Off the Boat (2006–2016)[edit]

Wu in August 2015

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 later had 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 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 moved to Los Angeles from New York in 2010 after a heartbreak. In Los Angeles, she was cast in Sound of My Voice, directed by Zal Batmanglij.[17] 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.[citation needed] 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.[18][19]

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.[12] In 2014, after landing a role in one unsuccessful comedy pilot, Wu won the lead role in the ABC comedy series Fresh Off the Boat alongside Randall Park.[20][21] 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.[22][23][24][25] E! named her a breakout star of the 2014–15 television season.[26] For her role as Jessica Huang, she received four nominations for The Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series[27] and two Television Critics Association TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy.[28]

Crazy Rich Asians and acclaim (2017–present)[edit]

Wu in 2020

In 2017, she appeared in the Hulu anthology series, Dimension 404,[29] and was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.[4] In February 2017,[30] Wu was cast as the female lead in Jon M. Chu's adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians, based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Kevin Kwan.[31] The film was released in the United States and Canada on August 15, 2018, by Warner Bros., and was the first major Hollywood studio film to feature an all-Asian cast since 1993's The Joy Luck Club.[32] The film was a critical and commercial success, and emerged as the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade, grossing over $238 million.[33] 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.[citation needed] She is the first Asian woman in over 40 years to be nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, and the fourth-ever female Asian nominee. Wu is signed on to reprise her role as Rachel Chu in both sequels to Crazy Rich Asians titled China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems, which were originally set for back-to-back filming in 2020,[34] although production on them has not yet begun. In November 2018, Wu starred in a short animated film Crow: The Legend as Skunk.[35]

In 2019, the actress starred alongside Jennifer Lopez in the crime comedy film Hustlers, which follows a group of former strippers in Manhattan who rob wealthy men.[36][37] The film opened on September 13, 2019, and became a box office success, grossing over $157 million worldwide and receiving positive reviews from critics.[38][39] Wu worked at a strip club undercover to prepare for the role.[40] Also in 2019, Wu starred in the independent drama film I Was a Simple Man.[41] In June 2019, it was announced that Wu would play the lead 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.[42] In March 2021, Wu was cast in the Amazon Prime thriller series The Terminal List.[43] More recently, she signed a first look TV deal with Entertainment One.[44] She plays Mrs. Primm in the new movie Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, which was released in theaters October 7, 2022. In late 2022, she starred in the U.S. debut of the play 2:22 A Ghost Story at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.[45]

Wu released her first book, the memoir Making a Scene, in October 2022.[46][47][48]

Personal life[edit]


Wu lives in Los Angeles.[49][50][51] In December 2011, Wu met actor Ben Hethcoat, whom she dated until February 2018.[52][53][54] In November 2018, Wu spoke out about online harassment and criticism she had received for dating Hethcoat, who is white.[55] In August 2020, Wu gave birth to her first child, a girl, with her boyfriend Ryan Kattner, frontman of the band Man Man.[56][57] On February 21, 2023, Wu announced her second pregnancy in an Instagram story,[58] and on July 20, 2023, she revealed she gave birth to her second child, a son.[59]

Activism and cause work[edit]

Wu is an activist regarding Asian representation in U.S. media, and has expressed her support for bringing more diversity into the film industry. Wu has shared her stories regarding times that she had been denied roles due to her racial background, and stated her hopes that her success would pave more paths for diverse representation in the U.S. film industry.[60] The #StarringConstanceWu hashtag meme, adopted by Asian-American activists, inserts Wu's image into film promotional materials in order to highlight the lack of actors of Asian descent in starring roles.[61][62]

In 2017, Wu worked with Miry's List, an organization that provides essential kits to newly arrived immigrants and refugee families in Southern California, stating in an interview with Teen Vogue that she wants to be active in her care of "people with the courage to make an immigrant journey in search of peace, safety and well-being for their families."[63]

In 2023, she was one of the actors to sign an open letter praising President Biden for his pro-Israel stance. The letter has been seen as pro-Zionist.[64][65]

Mental health and cyberbullying[edit]

In May 2019, after Fresh Off the Boat was renewed for its sixth and final season, Wu made several social media posts expressing her unhappiness with the renewal, including commenting "Dislike" on the show's Instagram post announcing the renewal and tweeting, "So upset right now that I'm literally crying. Ugh. Fuck".[66] Several days later, Wu clarified that she had been angry at the show's renewal because it had forced her to drop out of another project which she was "really passionate about", one that would have been an artistic challenge compared to her role in Fresh Off the Boat. She further stated that she loved her cast mates and harbored no animosity towards them.[67] The posts sparked backlash on social media. In July 2022, Wu revealed that the controversy, and specifically several private messages from "a fellow Asian actress" who told Wu that she had "become a blight on the Asian American community", had prompted her to attempt suicide; she was found by a friend and saved. Wu abstained from social media for the subsequent three years and decreased her acting workload to "focus on [her] mental health", which included entering psychotherapy.[68] In September 2022, Wu stated in interviews that she was the target of sexual harassment by an unspecified producer of Fresh off the Boat which had contributed to her initial reaction to the news of the show's renewal.[69]



Year Title Role Notes
2006 Stephanie Daley Jenn
The Architect Michelle
2007 Year of the Fish Lucy
2011 Sound of My Voice Christine
2012 Watching TV with the Red Chinese Kimi Hu
2013 Best Friends Forever Melanie
Ties Shannon O Short film
Taylor Manifest Val
Deadly Revenge Kym
My Mother Is Not a Fish N/A Director and writer
2014 Electric Slide Mika Oh
2015 Parallels Polly
Low Budget Ethnic Movie Sara
2017 Crow: The Legend Skunk Short film; Voice role
Nine Minutes Lilian Short film
The Feels Andi
All the Creatures Were Stirring Gabby
The Lego Ninjago Movie The Mayor of Ninjago Voice role
2018 Crazy Rich Asians Rachel Chu
Next Gen Molly Su Voice role
2019 Hustlers Destiny
2021 Wish Dragon Mrs. Song Voice role
I Was a Simple Man Grace
2022 Jennifer Lopez: Halftime Herself Documentary film
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Katie Primm
TBA The Friend[70] Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Candy Episode: "Underbelly"
2007 One Life to Live Laudine Lee 3 episodes
2011 Torchwood Shawnie Yamaguchi Episode: "Miracle Day: End of the Road"
2012–17 EastSiders Kathy Main role
2013 Browsers Prudence Yu Television pilot
Covert Affairs Wendy Chen Episode: "Rock a My Soul"
2014 Franklin & Bash Caroline Chilton Episode: "Falcon's Nest"
High Moon Mikiko Kobiyashi Unsold television pilot[71]
2015 Childrens Hospital Pepsi Lamarr Episode: "Up at 5""
2015–20 Fresh Off the Boat Jessica Huang Main role
2016 Royal Pains Amy Chang Episode: "Fly Me to Kowloon"
2017 Dimension 404 Jane Episode: "Bob"
2021 Solos Jenny Episode: "Jenny"[72]
2022 The Terminal List Katie Buranek Main role, 8 episodes
Celebrity Jeopardy! Herself Contestant
2023–present Velma Daphne Blake Voice

Music video[edit]

Year Title Performer(s) Ref.
2017 "Family Feud" Jay Z featuring Beyoncé [73]


Year Title Role Venue Ref.
2004 And The Earth Moved Jenny 45th Street Theatre [74]
2005 The Tempest Miranda Virginia Shakespeare Festival
2006 Ping Pong Diplomacy Zhu 59E59 Theaters
2022 2:22 A Ghost Story Jenny Ahmanson Theatre
2023 Little Shop of Horrors Audrey Fulquard Westside Theatre


  • Making a Scene (2022) ISBN 978-1982188566

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
2014 Indie Series Award Best Supporting Actress - Drama EastSiders Nominated [75]
Best Ensemble - Drama Won [76]
Critics' Choice Television Award Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series Fresh Off the Boat Nominated [77]
2015 Critics' Choice Television Award Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [78]
Unforgettable Gala – Asian American Awards Female Breakout Star of the Year Won
Poppy Awards Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
TCA Awards TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated [79]
2016 Poppy Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Award Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [80]
TCA Awards TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated [81]
7th Indie Series Awards Best Supporting Actress - Drama EastSiders Nominated [82]
Best Ensemble - Drama Won [83]
2018 Critics' Choice Television Award Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series Fresh Off the Boat Nominated [84]
Detroit Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Crazy Rich Asians Nominated
Hollywood Film Awards Breakout Ensemble Award Won
2019 9th The Asian Awards Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Won [85]
National Board of Review Best Acting by an Ensemble Won [86]
Satellite Award Best Actress – Comedy or Musical Nominated [87]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical Nominated [88]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Nominated [89]
Best Acting Ensemble Nominated [89]
25th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated [90]
Dublin Film Critics' Circle Best Actress Nominated [91]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Comedy Movie Actress Nominated [92]
2020 Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Comedy/Musical Hustlers Nominated


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External links[edit]