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Constance Wu
TIFF 2019 hustlers (1 of 1) (48696841647) (cropped).jpg
Wu in 2019
Born (1982-03-22) March 22, 1982 (age 41)
Education State University of New York, Purchase (BFA)
Occupation Actress
Years active 2006–present
Partner(s) Ryan Kattner
Children 2
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese 吴恬敏

Constance Wu (born March 22, 1982) is an American actress. Wu was included on Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2017. 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.

Wu starred as Jessica Huang in the ABC television comedy Fresh Off the Boat (2015–2020), which was her breakthrough role and earned her four nominations for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. 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. Following a series of media controversy and mental health issues, she published her memoir, Making a Scene, to critical success.

Early life

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, 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. 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 has cited Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee as an influence. After college, Wu studied psycholinguistics and considered pursuing a graduate degree in speech pathology before deciding on acting and moving to Los Angeles.

Career

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

Constance Wu in 2015 (cropped)
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. 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 lead 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.

Crazy Rich Asians and acclaim (2017–present)

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Wu in 2020

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, 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. 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. 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. 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, although production on them has not yet begun. In November 2018, Wu starred in a short animated film Crow: The Legend as Skunk.

In 2019, Wu starred in the independent drama film I Was a Simple Man. 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. In March 2021, Wu was cast in the Amazon Prime thriller series The Terminal List. More recently, she signed a first look TV deal with Entertainment One. 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.

Wu released her first book, the memoir Making a Scene, in October 2022.

Personal life

Relationships

Wu lives in Los Angeles. In December 2011, Wu met actor Ben Hethcoat, whom she dated until February 2018. In August 2020, Wu gave birth to her first child, a girl, with her boyfriend Ryan Kattner, frontman of the band Man Man. On February 21, 2023, Wu announced her second pregnancy in an Instagram story, and on July 20, 2023, she revealed she gave birth to her second child, a son.

Activism and cause work

Wu is an activist regarding Chinese 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. The #StarringConstanceWu hashtag meme, adopted by Chinese-American activists, inserts Wu's image into film promotional materials in order to highlight the lack of actors of Chinese descent 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, 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."


Filmography

Film

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 Voice role
2021 Wish Dragon Mom Voice role
I Was a Simple Man Grace
2022 Jennifer Lopez: Halftime Herself Documentary film
Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Katie Primm

Television

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
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"
2022 The Terminal List Katie Buranek Main role, 8 episodes
Celebrity Jeopardy! Herself Contestant
2023 Velma Daphne Blake Voice

Music video

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

Theatre

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

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
2014 Indie Series Award Best Supporting Actress - Drama EastSiders Nominated
Best Ensemble - Drama Won
Critics' Choice Television Award Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series Fresh Off the Boat Nominated
2015 Critics' Choice Television Award Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated
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
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
TCA Awards TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy Nominated
7th Indie Series Awards Best Supporting Actress - Drama EastSiders Nominated
Best Ensemble - Drama Won
2018 Critics' Choice Television Award Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series Fresh Off the Boat Nominated
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
National Board of Review Best Acting by an Ensemble Won
Satellite Award Best Actress – Comedy or Musical Nominated
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
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Nominated
Best Acting Ensemble Nominated
25th Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated
Dublin Film Critics' Circle Best Actress Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Comedy Movie Actress Nominated

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Constance Wu para niños

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