Constance Tianming Wu (born March 22, 1982) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Kathy on the web series EastSiders (2012–present) and as Jessica Huang in the ABC comedy series Fresh Off the Boat (2015–present). In 2017, Wu was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
Early life and education
Wu was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, into a Taiwanese-American family. She graduated from Douglas S. Freeman High School, where she began performing in local theater; she participated in a six month program during high school at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.
Wu's parents emigrated from Taiwan. Wu said that her paternal grandparents were very poor, working as bamboo farmers and did not have the opportunity to get an education, so were unable to read and write. Her father was a biology and genetics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and her mother was a computer programmer.
Wu graduated from State University of New York at Purchase's Conservatory of Theatre Arts with a bachelor of fine arts in acting in 2005. Wu was influenced by Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee.
After college, Wu studied psycholinguistics and almost attended a graduate degree program in speech pathology at Columbia University. She has three sisters, two older and one younger.
In New York, Wu had roles onstage and in independent movies. She made her screen debut with a supporting role in Stephanie Daley (2006). She also had later supporting roles in Year of the Fish and The Architect. On television, she appeared in episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Torchwood, and Covert Affairs, and also had a recurring role as Laudine Lee on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live in 2007. Wu moved to Los Angeles in 2010, where she was cast in Sound of My Voice, which was directed by Brit Marling.
Since 2012, Wu has starred in the critically acclaimed web series EastSiders; for her performance, she has earned two Indie Series Award nominations, in 2014 and 2016.
In 2014, after landing a role in one unsuccessful comedy pilot, Wu won the leading role in the ABC comedy series Fresh Off the Boat alongside Randall Park. The series is loosely based on the life of chef and food personality Eddie Huang and his book Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir. The series premiered in 2015, and Wu received critical acclaim for her performance. E! named her a breakout star of the 2014-15 television season. For her performance, she was nominated for Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series and a Television Critics Association TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy, both in 2015.
In 2017, she appeared in the Hulu anthology series Dimension 404, and was cast as lead character in the Warner Bros. film Crazy Rich Asians. Also that year, Wu was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.
The #StarringConstanceWu hashtag meme inserts Wu's image into movie promotional materials in order to highlight the paucity of Asian actors in starring roles.
In 2014, Wu participated in Sundance Screenwriters' Lab with two emerging Asian-American directors, Yung Chang and Christopher Yogi, in what she felt was a unique opportunity to support fellow Asian storytellers.