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'Fresh Off the Boat' star Constance Wu on Asians in Hollywood

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FRESH OFF THE BOAT - "Success Perm" - Family rivalry spirals out of control when Jessica's sister, Connie, and her far more affluent husband come to visit. The Huangs try to convince everyone they're doing great financially, when nothing could be further from the truth. Meanwhile, Eddie is excited to be reunited with his cousin Justin, who introduced him to hip hop, until he learns the kid has moved on to grunge, on "Fresh Off the Boat," TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10 (8:30-9:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Gilles Mingasson/ABC via Getty Images)
Gilles Mingasson/Getty Images
Constance Wu and Randall Park star as parents Jessica and Louis Huang in the ABC show "Fresh Off the Boat."

It wasn't until she was cast on "Fresh Off the Boat" that Wu embraced her background and began to fight for better representation of Asians in Hollywood, too.

Constance Wu always had a passion to act, but fighting for Asian representation in Hollywood had not always been on her radar. 

"I wish I could say that I was thinking that," she tells Take Two. "I didn't think of my race or ethnicity as a barrier, almost to an embarrassing extent."

It wasn't until she was cast as Jessica on the TV show "Fresh Off the Boat" that she embraced her background and began to fight for better representation of Asians in Hollywood, too.

The issue has gained more traction in recent years, with controversies like accusations of whitewashing with the casting Scarlett Johansson in the film adaptation of "Ghost in the Shell."

Wu says, before, she chalked up not getting jobs to the usual grind of acting.

"You're constantly told – white, black, Asian, whatever – 'Oh, you're not thin enough' or 'You're not tall enough,'" she says, "so much so that you think, 'This is just my problem. I need to get over these things.'"

But it was through her community of fans that she says she began to understand what happens when Asians are marginalized on the screen.

So with her prominent role as a mom on a major network sitcom, Wu says she's able to turn stereotypes on their heads and offer a new point of view to what it means to be an American.

"'Fresh Off the Boat' is very special because we very much are American," she says, "yet we do not work from the construct that the 'white' framework is the norm and everything else is a deviation. This is our story." 

Listen to more of Take Two's conversation with Wu with the blue audio player.

You can also see Constance Wu on stage, joined by "Fresh Off the Boat's" inspiration Eddie Huang, for a talk at the Aratani Theatre on June 2nd.

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