cover image Making a Scene

Making a Scene

Constance Wu. Scribner, $29 (336p) ISBN 978-1-982188-54-2

Wu, star of Crazy Rich Asians, dazzles in this essay collection about love, family, and her hard-won path to Hollywood success. The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Wu was discouraged from calling attention to herself while growing up in 1980s Richmond, Va., but found an outlet in acting. Despite “assimilating very well” in her predominantly white hometown (doing “all the normal American stuff like cheerleading and... sleepover parties”), Wu couldn’t ignore the discomfort she felt when watching Asian characters on screen. As she writes in “Welcome to Jurassic Park”: “My face always burned with shame, especially if that character spoke with an Asian accent.” It wasn’t until 2015, when Wu took a starring role in the sitcom Fresh off the Boat as Jessica, a Taiwanese immigrant and mother to three Asian American children, that her mindset changed: “Off the Boat wasn’t race-neutral. It was race-relevant.” While the show was groundbreaking—centering an Asian American family’s story on American television for the first time in more than 20 years—Wu reveals in “You Do What I Say” that it didn’t protect her from the harassment of a producer, or from later having to fight for filming dates that worked for her with Crazy Rich Asians. Even still, Wu remained undeterred, and it’s that dogged determination that radiates from every page. Fans will feel lucky to be in on the action. (Oct.)