By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Producer
Constance Wu on Friday alleged that a producer sexually harassed and intimidated her for two years while working on Fresh Off the Boat, which in 2015 became the first sitcom in 20 years to star an Asian American.
Wu says she reluctantly agreed to tell the story in her upcoming book Making the Scene which is due out October 4 from Scribner.
“I did not want to sully the reputation of the one show we had representing us (Asian Americans),” said Wu explaining why she didn’t speak up earlier. “Therefore I kept my mouth shut for a real long time about a lot of sexual harassment and intimidation that I received the first two seasons of the show.”
She said it wasn’t until the show became successful and she was not afraid to lose her job that she could say no to the harassment. Once she handled it she decided she would not have to “stain this Asian American producer’s reputation. I don’t have to stain the reputation of the show.”
She made her comments during the Atlantic Festival Friday for a sit down interview with Atlantic staff writer Shirley Li.
She told about the producer “touching my crotch and then me saying no. Don’t do that. Finally saying no and then he got mad. Right after he did that, he touched a less provocative place,” pointing to her arms. “He grabbed like the back of my tricep. Jiggled it around and I was like, what are you doing?”
Wu acknowledged those bad feelings lingered through the show’s six season.
“When the show was renewed after they had told me it likely wouldn’t be, I made some profane, reckless tweets that ignited a pile on of hatred towards me because I just had a hit movie, Crazy Rich Asians. So it looked really bad from the outside. Oh, she thinks she’s a big movie star. I wanted to have a fresh slate where I didn’t have to start a show with all these memories of abuse.
“A few people knew it was happening. And to go to work everyday and to see those people who knew that he was sexually harassing me being buddy buddy with him, it felt like a betrayal at the time,” she said as tears began to stream down her face. “I had to see that at work everyday. It felt like a betrayal. I loved everybody on that show. I loved working on that show, but it had that history of abuse that it started with. Even though I handled it after a few years, I was looking forward to that clean slate.”
She said the incident made her take a break from her career and inspired her to go to therapy which she believes was a good thing and she “ultimately came out better.”
During that the time she also took a break from social media. She reemerged after three years with the encouragement of her publisher with a tweet about her suicide attempt. She said the people who need help are probably not sitting there reading self help books. Instead they’re scrolling through their feeds and feeling awful.
“So I realized it was more important for me to help people like that than I was afraid of social media. The place I’m going to reach them, not with my book, but with my social media statement. I wanted to make it clear that I struggled too and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that its OK to ask for help. There is a stigma in the Asian American community on mental health.”
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