HomeChinese AmericanEllen Degeneres Asks Constance Wu the "Where Are You From" Question

Ellen Degeneres Asks Constance Wu the “Where Are You From” Question

Ellen DeGeneres with Crazy Rich Asians

By Selana Razo
Commentary

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres is being slammed by many people on social media for asking Constance Wu a question many people of color have had to answer: Where are you from originally?

The interview took place in April but after DeGeneres reposted a video of her interview with Constance Wu and Henry Golding in light of Crazy Rich Asians‘ premiere, she received a lot of backlash.

According to NewsHub, when DeGeneres asked Wu where she was from and Wu answered “Richmond, Virginia”, the talk show host asked “Richmond, Virginia?” which was followed by laughter from the studio audience.

It should be noted that White actors are not usually asked this question.

In DeGeneres’ defense, she had also asked Henry Golding where he was from so it is possible that she asked it as a way to include Wu.  DeGeneres also did not say the word “originally” when addressing Wu so maybe she did not mean it in that way, but there are still many White celebrities on the show that have not been asked that question.

The main issue with questions regarding where a person is “originally” from is that they are seen as filler questions for celebrities of color.

One friend pointed out to me that if DeGeneres really wanted to know where Wu was from, she could have just done her research before the interview.  She obviously did some research before the interview since she mentioned that Crazy Rich Asians is the first major studio film in 25 years to have an all Asian cast.

What really set people off was the word “originally.” The word “originally’ can give off the idea that one must identify with their ethnic heritage, rather than the country that they were born.  This means that while Constance Wu is from Virginia, many people would have expected her to say that she is Chinese.  What also made it worse was when DeGeneres responded “Richmond, Virginia?” giving off the impression that she could not believe that Wu was from Virginia.

It should be mentioned that Golding never actually said where he was from, just his heritage and where his mother was born.  To many Asian Americans, this is the typical response we have accustomed ourselves to give when asked where we are from “originally.”  He mentioned that he is half-British and clearly speaks with a British accent so it’s possible that he might consider himself to be from Britain, but that was not the answer DeGeneres and her audience were looking for.

Watch the video below to see Constance Wu and Henry Golding on the Ellen Show below to get your own understanding of what happened in the interview.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G9UNULKI3Q]

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4 COMMENTS

  1. RE: Ellen DeGeneres aks Constance Wu the “Where Aer you From” Question: When people ask me “that question” I size up the person who is asking and generally take no offense to it at all. I’m proud of my varied ancestral streams and the diaspora is something that many share in so many versions. I’m interested in where other folks are from as well. That doesn’t diminish the value I see in who they are or where in life they are now … it just adds a depth to my understanding where they are coming from and their experience base.

    • RE: Ellen DeGeneres Asks Constance Wu the “Where Are You From” Question: Agree with Charles Tsiang. The only red flag was Ellen’s surprised response “ Virginia?” And the audience laughing. That should have been handled/responded to by Wu. That in itself is a giveaway that Ellen expected Constance to reply with some foreign Asian country.

  2. RE: Lana Condor Rebukes Those who Wanted an AsAm Love Interest in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before:tell them my ethnic heritage then ask them where they are from originally. It actually leads to interesting conversations because most white people are of mixed heritage themselves. In my case it doesn’t help because my heritage isn’t where I was raised so I have to explain my life story

  3. RE: Ellen DeGeneres Ask Constance Wu the “Where Are You From” question: I was kind of surprised Ellen didn’t mention “Fresh off the Boat” at all.

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