Constance Wu opens up about allegations of sexual harassment against 'Fresh Off the Boat' producer

The actress sat down with ABC News' Juju Chang for a wide-ranging interview.

Constance Wu is reintroducing herself after a few years out of the Hollywood spotlight -- and what she is sharing is deeply personal.

The actress, who shot to fame on the ABC sitcom "Fresh Off the Boat" and became a full-fledged movie star with starring roles in "Crazy Rich Asians" and "Hustlers," sat down with ABC News' Juju Chang for a wide-ranging interview airing Tuesday on "Good Morning America" and later on "Nightline."

In the emotional conversation, Wu opened up about her recent allegation that she was sexually harassed by a producer of "Fresh Off the Boat" and a separate alleged date rape experience from a different man years earlier, both of which she details in her new book, "Making a Scene," out Oct. 4.

PHOTO: Book cover of "Making A Scene" by Constance Wu.
Simon & Schuster

Wu recently returned to social media after retreating in 2019 amid backlash to her negative response on Twitter to "Fresh Off the Boat" being renewed for its sixth -- and, ultimately, final -- season. Her remarks went viral in May that year, and, as she stated this past July, the backlash led her to attempt to take her own life.

Now, Wu is opening up about the Twitterstorm, her apology and career consequences she endured because of it, as well as her mental health and recovery, the complex world of social media and her thoughts on cancel culture.

Wu details allegations of sexual harassment from a "Fresh Off the Boat" producer

Wu said that while "Fresh Off the Boat" was considered a "bright pinnacle of Asian American representation" on television by viewers, she was silently suffering behind the scenes.

In her book, the actress said she was allegedly "sexually harassed" and "intimidated and threatened a lot" by one of the show's producers, an Asian American man whom she did not name. The harassment, she says, included the producer asking her for "sexy selfies at night," making inappropriate comments when seeing pictures of her friends and an incident of unwanted touching over her jeans shorts.

ABC, the home network of "Fresh Off the Boat" for its entire six-season run between 2015 and 2020, had no comment on Wu's allegations.

Wu said she was "constantly terrified of being fired" from what was her first-ever network TV job if she were to speak up, noting that this was "pre-#MeToo Movement."

"And it really was a conflict for me because I didn't want to talk about it because I didn't want to … stain the reputation of the one show Asian Americans had to represent themselves," she added.

"Compared to other stories of the harassment I endured, it, quote, 'wasn't that bad,'" Wu said. "In fact, to be honest, what I went through was pretty common … in Hollywood those days."

By season 2, Wu said she felt empowered to push back against her alleged harassment because she felt that her being "an integral part" of the cast of a popular show gave her security. "That was when I finally started saying no to his inappropriate requests, and that is what made him furious," she said. "And to this day, since then, we have not spoken."

Wu said she was "of course" afraid of the backlash to her coming forward now about the alleged abuse because "there's not much to be gained when survivors tell their stories." Still, she said she finally felt ready to speak out, having gone through "a lot of therapy," where she says she gained the tools to face the experience with her support system around her.

It was having to come forward against someone within her own community, who was "doing so much" for other Asian Americans, Wu said, that gave her pause to speak out about "sexist and abusive and misogynist behavior."

"It's like, how do you hold them accountable for that, yet also include and support how much they help the Asian American community?" she said. "It's a difficult choice to make, and back then it was a choice I made because ['Fresh Off the Boat'] was the only show we had for Asian American representation."

PHOTO: Constance Wu tears up during interview with "Good Morning America."
Constance Wu tears up during interview with "Good Morning America."
ABC News

A life-altering reaction on Twitter and the fallout from it

Wu's book of essays details the moment in May 2019 when her career took a major turn.

The season 5 finale of "Fresh off the Boat '' had aired and the actress said that at the time she was looking forward to the next chapter in her career. She told "GMA" that the final episode of season five "had been written to function as a series finale" and claimed the network gave her "their blessing" to pursue other projects.

But when the news was announced that the sitcom would return for a sixth season, the actress took to Twitter to express her frustration in since-deleted tweets. "F---ing hell," she tweeted, appearing to indirectly respond to the show's renewal.

"So upset right now that I'm literally crying," she wrote in a separate tweet.

"I'd gotten these other jobs that I was really excited about and I was ready for a clean slate," Wu told Chang. "I was ready to stop working at a place that held so many memories of sexual harassment and shame and fear. So when I found out that I couldn't move on, I felt -- honestly, in that moment, I felt betrayed and I felt lied to."

"I felt a little reckless and I felt like I had been quiet for so long that I needed to finally make a sound," Wu continued. "I didn't care how it sounded. And it came out sounding pretty bad. My tweets were really graceless. And they were like me being drunk and dramatic at a bar."

"The backlash was immediate," she continued. "There was a huge pile on. I was essentially canceled for coming off as ungrateful."

Wu added that "the most painful thing of it all ... was really the Asian American community that either ostracized me or avoided me the most around that topic."

PHOTO: "Fresh Off the Boat" actress Constance Wu wipes tears during an interview with "Good Morning America."
"Fresh Off the Boat" actress Constance Wu wipes tears during an interview with "Good Morning America."
ABC News

Wu details attempted suicide in the wake of the scandal

Wu claimed she received one direct message in particular, in response to her tweets, from an Asian actress whom she did not name but said she had hoped was an ally.

"She sent me some DMs -- shaming me to the point of me thinking that I needed to end my own life. And you know, it's crazy that a few DMs could do that," she said of the actress.

"She basically said I had become a blight on [the] Asian American community, and nothing I could ever do would make up for the damage I'd done to the community," Wu said. "That I was like, a disgrace. And it made me feel like Asian Americans feel like it would be better if I just didn't exist."

Wu said the DM from the actress led her to, in Wu's words, "try to not exist anymore," telling "GMA" that the decision to attempt to take her own life was an impulsive one amid a challenging time. "It wasn't a thoughtful thing," she said of her attempted suicide, which she first publicly revealed in July 2022. "It wasn't in the days leading up -- I was like, I got the DMs and I thought, 'OK, I can't be alive anymore.'"

"I pulled myself over the balcony of my apartment building, you know, and I was going to jump," she detailed. "Talking about it now makes my palms itch, 'cause I remember, like, holding onto it. But ultimately, it ended up being something helpful because it made me get help. I was in therapy and under observation for a long time."

Wu details alleged date rape and why she is writing about it years later

In her book of essays, Wu also opens up about a time when she was allegedly raped by a man on a date years ago.

"I didn't even realize it was rape," she told "GMA" while speaking about that section of her book. "But rape is having sex with somebody who does not consent."

The actress claimed she told the man she was not ready for sex but said that didn't stop him.

"I didn't fight back because, first of all, he's twice my size, we are in his apartment [and] he was being tender in the moment," she said, adding that her thought at the time was if she were to fight back that he "might suddenly turn violent."

Wu said she was "afraid of making a scene" and "being the uncool girl" and that she ultimately "just gave up."

The actress said it took her "a decade" to look back on this alleged experience and identify it as rape.

"It took me a really long time to even say the R-word," she said. "It felt way too dramatic and out of control for something that had been so quiet."

Moving forward with the help of therapy

The actress said that she was diagnosed with clinical depression "long before" her suicide attempt three years ago -- but the suicide attempt led her to seek professional help. "I was in therapy every day for a while, and then I was in therapy three times a week," she said. "I'm still in therapy. I go once a week now."

She said that, at the time, professional help looked like "completely unplugging from social media and sort of reevaluating what mattered to me in life and why it mattered to me."

Wu has since made a return to social media. She reemerged on social platforms in July to share an honest letter that detailed her suicide attempt and the "Fresh Off the Boat" scandal from her tweets after its final renewal. She said she still tends to "try not to engage that much" with social media platforms and, before rejoining them, said she spoke about the decision with her therapist.

Her reason for returning to social media, she said, stems from her desire to share her story with those who won't read it in her book. "It might seem like I rejoined social media to promote my book," she said. "I can understand why somebody would think that."

"But I realized that a lot of people don't read books these days," she continued. "That's OK. No judgment. But the people that I want to reach, the people who are going through what I went through three years ago, who are in despair over a DM or a tweet, they're probably not out there reading self-help or inspirational books. They're scrolling their feeds and feeling lonelier and lonelier. So I want to reach that person."

When asked if she's spoken to the unnamed actress who allegedly sent her a direct message that led her to attempt to take her life, Wu said she has not -- but she said she's forgiven her.

"Listen, if I'm asking people to think of the context in which I made my mistake of those reckless tweets, I think that I can look at somebody who did something that was hurtful to me and try to imagine maybe she was going through something, too," Wu said.

Wu on her return to "Fresh Off the Boat," facing cancel culture

Following the Twitter backlash, Wu said she apologized to her "Fresh Off the Boat" team in a letter during a table read on their first day back for the final season.

She said it was uncomfortable at first but, in the end, said it felt like "the bravest thing I've ever done."

PHOTO: Lucille Soong, Constance Wu, Randall Park, Ian Chen, Forrest Wheeler and Hudson Yang are shown in an episode of the tv show, "Fresh Off the Boat."
Lucille Soong, Constance Wu, Randall Park, Ian Chen, Forrest Wheeler and Hudson Yang are shown in an episode of the tv show, "Fresh Off the Boat."
Evans Ward/ABC via Getty Images, FILE

"I did it even though it was hard, 'cause at that point, it wasn't about my pride. It wasn't about my defensiveness. It was about taking care of the people in that room who had meant so much to me," Wu said.

"So many people had shamed me for it. But the people on the show sort of knew me, and knew that I wasn't this monster that the media wanted to characterize me [as]," she said. "And so they really came to my support and they really hugged me and held me in a way that I'll always be grateful for. And these are people who didn't know about this producer's sexual harassment, they just knew that I was unfairly maligned by the media and by Twitter."

Wu said what happened over Twitter has "100%" affected her career, but she has come to accept it.

"As we know in the film and TV industry, a lot of casting is about public perception -- it's about social media numbers," she expressed. "So I think when you don't have a specific public perception or public image that is appealing to people, it makes you seem less 'castable.'"

PHOTO: Constance Wu is shown in an episode of the tv show "Fresh Off The Boat."
Constance Wu is shown in an episode of the tv show "Fresh Off The Boat."
Kelsey McNeal/Disney via Getty Images

As well as processing the career consequences Wu said she's endured, the actress also had thoughts on cancel culture as a whole.

"I think cancel culture can be really good and productive and healing for some people to call out poor behavior," she said. "And I think it can also be constructive in a way that, if we allow people to change, maybe they will."

She emphasized the importance of allowing room for growth, changes and understanding in order to enact change. "While I think we should respect and honor the very real, very valid feelings of people who have been affected and therefore cancel other people, I think we should also hold space to let people grow and learn," she said.

"We're having difficulty letting them coexist 'cause we think by letting somebody do that, you're forgiving them or you're defending them," she continued. "I think you're just growing your empathy. Forgiveness, that's something you do for yourself, not for the other party."

She said being "canceled" herself allowed her to grow.

"In many ways, it helped me learn a lot about myself. And sure, there are people who aren't gonna forgive me. That's about their own journey. I do feel like I've had the opportunity to change," she said.

"... In the end," she added, "I'm, in a way -- a strange way -- kind of glad for it."

If you are experiencing suicidal, substance use or other mental health crises please call or text 988. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to 988lifeline.org or dial the current toll free number 800-273-8255 [TALK].

For anyone affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you're unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474.

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