In a post on social media, Wu looked back on her journey from starring on “Fresh Off the Boat,” the first network TV show to feature an Asian-American family in more than two decades, to being front and center in the first contemporary Hollywood film in 25 years to have an all-Asian cast ― the last being 1993′s “Joy Luck Club.”
The movie, she wrote, is expanding the idea of what a lead actor looks like.
“Before [‘Crazy Rich Asians’], I hadn’t even done a tiny part in a studio film ... I never dreamed I would get to star in one ... because I had never seen that happen to someone who looked like me,” Wu wrote. “CRA is changing that, just like [‘Fresh Off the Boat’] did.”
The actress explained that when she first moved to Los Angeles, she had already spent 10 years as a theater actress, supporting herself with waitressing jobs. She said that she expected to do so for the rest of her life ― something she felt was a “privilege.” Then, she booked “Fresh Off the Boat” ― the first sitcom about an Asian-American family since Margaret Cho’s 1994 “All-American Girl.”
“Suddenly, with FOTB’s success, people were talking about the lack of Asian American stories. Why had it taken 20 years? Why hadn’t anyone been talking that lack before?” the actress wrote. “Today, FOTB is heading into its 5th season as the 1st network show starring Asian Americans to reach syndication. That’s truly historic.”
With her upcoming movie, Wu said she hopes that Asian-American kids will realize “they can be heroes in their own stories.” Hopefully, she said, more films will add to the depth of the Asian-American experience.
“I know CRA won’t represent every Asian American. So for those of you who don’t feel seen, I hope there is a story you find soon that does represent you. I am rooting for you. We’re not all the same, but we all have a story,” she wrote. “I am the American daughter of immigrants. Immigrant stories are the stories of dreams, of love, of sacrifice, of courage, of honor.”
Asian-Americans have long awaited themselves reflected on-screen. And as sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen pointed out, there’s a “lost generation” that has yet to see their faces represented in Hollywood.
“As a result, an entire generation in the United States missed out on seeing Asian American families represented in film and television,” Yuen wrote in a blog post for HuffPost. “This is significant since families are central to belonging and community. The exclusion of Asian American families from popular culture dehumanizes and marginalizes them as outsiders.”
Yuen concluded: “Everyone must support this film and clamor for more Asian American representations to prevent future lost generations.”