Newly minted first-time Golden Globe nominee Constance Wu found out about her nomination a little later than… pretty much everyone. The Crazy Rich Asians star left her phone on “Do Not Disturb” and woke up to a deluge of messages — most of them congratulatory, one rather panicked.
“My publicist kept calling me over and over again, like, ‘Wake up! Wake up!'” she tells EW. “I guess I just didn’t realize [the nominations] would be so early, and I was also just trying not to think too much about it.”
She can certainly dedicate a lot more thought to it now. Wu landed Crazy Rich Asians a performance nod, in the Best Actress (Musical or Comedy) category, and the film itself landed among the Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) honorees. In a year that’s seen Asian representation in Hollywood finally experience a long-awaited boom, Wu’s nomination already marks one more historic win: She’s the first Asian woman in more than 50 years (Miyoshi Umeki was the last nominee, for 1962’s Flower Drum Song) to land a nod for lead actress in a musical or comedy, and if she does win come Golden Globes night, she’ll be the first Asian woman ever to do so in the category.
No pressure — but then again, at least this year’s Golden Globes has already furthered Asian representation by tapping Killing Eve‘s Sandra Oh as the first Asian co-host. With Oh also nominated (in the lead actress category for a television drama), could Oh’s quip at the Emmys — “It’s an honor just to be Asian” — really be true? Could the tide finally be turning in Asian representation’s favor?
“Oh yeah, totally,” Wu responds with a laugh, before pointing out that there’s still much to be done. “What I hope is that we have cracked the floodgates open, and so now the flood will come pouring out. And by flood, I mean all the other Asian stories still haven’t been represented, you know? We still don’t have a ton of Southeast Asian content. We still don’t have a ton of LGBTQ content, and so many [others] that I wish I had time to mention all of them.”
“So,” she continues, “I hope this [wave] is not just a one-off, and that it gives opportunity, for people who are still waiting, to have representation and to feel like their country values their stories. That’s what I hope is happening, and I’m certainly going to do everything I can to continue supporting that movement.”
Fresh Off the Boat, ABC’s long-running sitcom about an Asian-American family on which she stars, is the perfect example of how the movement can continue, Wu says. “It was groundbreaking, not because it’s the only show in 20 years to star an Asian-American, but because it’s the first Asian show ever to be in syndication. It means not only do you have representation, but you have longevity in that representation,” she explains, adding that promoting more stories that delve deeper into the Asian experience remains her primary goal. “It’s important we tell stories where Asian-ness is not just skin deep, where it’s actually integral to character and where the experience is actually centered rather than supporting. That’s my campaign.”
For now, though, she’s going to celebrate. Wu has already caught up over the phone with director Jon M. Chu — he was her second call, after her publicist, she notes — and muses that she’ll probably have “something yummy” to commemorate the occasion. Plus, she’ll get to have a mini-Crazy Rich Asians reunion tonight: She’s heading GQ‘s Man of the Year party, which will honor Henry Golding (a.k.a. Nick to her Rachel in Crazy Rich Asians) as the first Asian, well, Man of the Year.
After all, reuniting is what she’s really looking forward to at the Golden Globes. “I’m honestly excited to hang with my Crazy Rich Asians crew,” she says, “and to celebrate together, and to celebrate their work.”