USC APASA held their signature speaker event for APAHF this year on February 16th. This year we brought the lovely Constance Wu, best known for her role as Jessica Huang from the ABC hit comedy “Fresh Off the Boat” to the campus. With over 400 RSVPs, even an hour before the event, people were lining up outside of Bovard Auditorium - anxious and excited to meet one of the entertainment’s leading Asian American women.
Wu talked about her experience in the entertainment business as minority and her journey in learning about her own Asian American identity. She discussed her struggles towards her aspirations from attending in Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and the Conservatory for Theatre Arts at S.U.N.Y. Purchase to acting in commercials for McDonalds to finally making it big. Passionate about her acting craft and having studied much of drama, Constance couldn’t help but find it tragic that her claim to fame was through comedy. The event was conducted in a interview style as she responded to questions from MCs Lorna Xu and Jonathan Wang. Audience members even got their chance to ask their own questions. After the event, lucky attendees were given the opportunity for a meet-and-greet with Constance Wu at TCC!
One of Wu’s themes throughout the night was systematic racism and diversity, particularly in the arts. When asked whether she believed the reason there was a lack of Asian American artists was because of a lack of support from the culture, she rejected the thought.
"Creativity can mean so many things and to say the Asian American community doesn't foster creativity, that's false and not fair to say," said Wu.
The "Fresh Off the Boat" actress also took the opportunity to criticize the culture of entertainment business and the those that run the system. She questioned why in romantic movies such as “The Notebook” that the female lead is always sweet and beautiful, rather than overweight and with acne. Addressing the issue of stereotypes and breaking away from them, she acknowledged that in races there will always be the “dweeb” and the “hunk” but neither should make us cringe. This brought up the issue of ignorance of diversity within the director and producer community. In one of the most powerful statements that night, Wu said, “Creators need to have an awareness of what they’re creating and to not use ignorance as an excuse.”
Constance Wu is truly an inspiration and advocate for the APA community. As she continues to tell our story through her time on “Fresh Off the Boat”, she also hopes to eventually bring to light the many other stories of our community. Many students were ecstatic to meet her and expressed their gratitude towards her for being a positive role model. On behalf of USC, we would like to thank Constance Wu for joining us and inspiring many of us in our individual journeys as members of the APA community.