Constance Wu reveals in her new book that she was sexually assaulted in her 20s.
In an excerpt of Making a Scene, published by Vanity Fair, the Fresh Off the Boat actress, 40, opens up about the encounter with an "aspiring novelist" named Ty on their second date 20 years ago.
In the book, out Oct. 4, Wu wrote that she had a wonderful first date with Ty, a New Yorker in his mid-30s, who appeared to be a gentleman and with whom she shared sparks. On their second date, they had dinner and he invited her up to his apartment after to give her something he had written for her. They kissed and it led to more, but when he went to get a condom — "an obvious signal for sex, which I did not want" — she stated more than once that she was "not ready to have sex" with him.
"But he merely smiled, as if he knew better ... than the words coming out of my mouth," she wrote. "He ... did it anyway."
Wu wrote that she "didn't fight back. I just ... gave up" as it happened. She told herself that, "Cool girls didn’t freak out. Plus ... he wasn’t violent. He just didn’t listen to me." Plus, "if I fought him there was a risk that he could become angry or violent. Could I really fight someone twice my size and a decade older than me? In his apartment?" Plus, "I was already so embarrassed... I didn’t want to make a scene."
She recalled that she "wasn’t even upset" when she left. "I just felt ... weird. Maybe because there had been no physical force... I didn’t feel attacked or assaulted or coerced and I certainly didn’t feel raped. He just didn’t listen to me, I thought."
Wu buried the story deep below the surface long before she became a TV star, which gave her "a front-row seat to Hollywood’s latent sexism and misogyny." Her fame from Fresh Off the Boat "gave me a public platform, I used it to advocate for equality, pointing out systemic gender biases, and calling for public acknowledgement of and ending to rape culture... All the while thinking how fortunate it was that I had never been raped."
It changed one day on a plane from Singapore after filming 2018's hit Crazy Rich Asians.
"I’d just woken up from a nap when the realization hit me like a flood," she wrote. "Ty raped me. He raped me, and I hadn’t done anything about it."
She had a hard time referring to it as "rape" initially ("I couldn’t even say the word"), but was able to process it with her therapist. "She said it was rape and that the lack of violence didn’t change that," she recalled.
Wu spent a lot of time wondering why it took 10 years to surface that she was sexually assaulted. She now knows, "I did not consent to sex. Maybe it wasn’t violent, but it was rape. Period."
The excerpt ended with her writing, "Some people might say that I should have fought back against Ty. But if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change how I reacted that night. Because when I think about the girl I was back then, I understand what she was going through. She wasn’t yet ready to bear the insults and derision that follow when women make scenes. And I wouldn’t make her do something before she was ready."
Wu has been making headlines over the last few months for her candid revelations. Just last week, she said she was sexually harassed during her early years on Fresh Off the Boat, which aired from 2015 to 2020. She played Jessica Huang, the mother in a Taiwanese-American family living in Orlando, Fla., on the hit sitcom set in the late-'90s.
She told the New York Times an unidentified "senior member of the production team ... controlled her," including "demanding that she run all her business matters past him and telling her what to wear" during her first year on the show. She also claimed the man had once put his hand on her thigh and grazed her crotch. By Season 2, she felt empowered to say no to the man. She and her alleged harasser stopped speaking completely after she refused to attend a film festival with him.
"Fresh Off the Boat was my first-ever TV show," Wu told the outlet. "I was thrown into this world. I don't have parents in the industry. And because I was 30, people thought I knew what I was doing. It made me paranoid and embarrassed."
Wu said that harassment was behind her tweeting in 2019 that she was ready for Fresh Off the Boat to end. Her tweets prompted backlash and she apologized for being "dramatic." However, off-line, she felt like a disgrace to the Asian American community for seeming ungrateful for her job, leading to her attempting suicide. She publicly shared about the attempted suicide in July of this year when she returned to social media for the first time in three years.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, help is available. RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline is here for survivors 24/7 with free, anonymous help. 800.656.HOPE (4673) and online.rainn.org.