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Constance Wu Calls on Male Asian American Activists to Speak Up for Women

”You can’t stand for Asian Americans if you don’t also actively stand for Asian American women,“ Wu told TheWrap

After courageously speaking out about her experiences with sexual harassment and mental health challenges in her book, “Making a Scene,” with a precursor on social media, Constance Wu has received more compassion than the last time she expressed herself online — a moment where she faced tremendous backlash that ultimately led to a suicide attempt. While the “Fresh Off the Boat” actress felt heartened by the response of Asian American women to sharing her story, she admitted that she felt “disappointed” in male Asian American activists’ silence.

“I feel honestly a bit disappointed in our most prominent Asian American activists’ relative silence on issues that have to do with sexism, feminism and sexual harassment,” the “Crazy Rich Asians” star told TheWrap at the Makers Conference. “The amount of space they allot for women is paltry compared to the amount of space that they allowed for ‘general Asian issues.'”

Wu underscores that advocacy for the Asian American community must take an intersectional approach, saying, “You can’t stand for Asian Americans if you don’t also actively stand for Asian American women.”

“Even if you’re quiet, even if you quietly support it, that’s not active,” Wu said. “You have to be as vocal as you are about other things.”

Since releasing her book, comprised of a collection of personal essays, Wu has opened up about being sexually harassed by an Asian American producer during her first couple of years on “Fresh Off the Boat,” though she has not named her abuser. In her book, she also recalls confiding in a male Asian American figure in the industry about the abuse, who failed to show concern about her safety and lauded her abuser at an event not much later.

After her suicide attempt, Wu stepped away from social media and Hollywood for three years as she recovered and prioritized her health. While the author has advocated for mental health to be destigmatized, she says entertainment “does a better job than most other industries in terms of talking about the importance of it.”

Where the industry can improve, however, is in providing more resources for those experiencing mental health challenges and improving awareness of these resources — something Wu certainly did not know about in the early stages of her career.

“When I was on my first year of ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ I had only ever worked as a waitress really before [and] I didn’t even know what an HR department was, or what they did,” Wu said, adding that during this time, which was before the #MeToo movement, she didn’t know if the HR department handled health insurance. “To have knowledge [that] there is a resource to go to that is there for you — to not just have it but to know what it is, and to tell your people what it is and what it offers — I think is very cool.”

Though Wu has been uplifted by the reception of her story, she says the best part happened before “Making a Scene” hit the press. “Writing it, and being as honest as I was, feels like a great relief,” Wu said. “That’s the prize.”