“The news took us all by surprise. After finding out about the show’s renewal on Twitter, I called my manager and he too was shocked,” Wu, 40, recalls in her new memoir, Making a Scene, about the moment in 2019 when the ABC sitcom was picked up for another year.
“Because of my studio contract, I’d have to drop everything else — all the exciting jobs that the network had given us permission to pursue — and return to FOTB. The fresh start I’d looked forward to would have to wait,” the Hustlers star writes in the book, which is out on Tuesday, October 4. “I hung up the phone. Suddenly, everything I’d held back for so long flooded the atmosphere. My feelings were overwhelming, a tsunami crashing through my body — betrayal, helplessness, like they’d lied to me. I had kept my head down and tolerated the discomfort for so long, trying to preserve everything for everybody else, and I just couldn’t do it anymore.”
At the time, Wu took to social media to express her frustrations — “so upset right now that I’m literally crying” — and remembers that the “backlash was immediate,” with people flooding the comment section to call her an “ungrateful bitch.”
After the controversy made headlines, Wu says she “apologized to the rest of the cast, crew, producers, writers, and executives at the first table read of the season,” calling it one of the “bravest” things she’s ever done.
“Then there was the schadenfreude that always follows a big social media scene,” she explains. “Seeing someone who was always so practiced suddenly lose control—was entertainment. I became a headline, a meme, a springboard for righteous opinion. An ungrateful girl making a scene. I stopped looking at all social media, but I couldn’t escape.”
The Virginia native, who wanted to dive deeper into her craft after playing an “easy and pleasant” character on a sitcom for so long, shares in her memoir that being on a mainstream comedy was initially a “soft spot” for her while initially taking the job.
FOTB, which showcased the lives of an Asian-American family in Florida in the ’90s, ran from 2015 to 2020 and starred the Golden Globe nominee alongside Randall Park.
Wu’s character, Jessica Huang, was a mother — and 10 years older than Wu herself, which the Terminal List star refers to as a devastating “blow” to her “vanity” at the time.
Portraying the character, however, ended up being the least of the Crazy Rich Asians star’s issues during her time on the show. Beyond “filming five days a week, 12-plus-hour days” and constant press that left her “drained,” Wu was also a victim of sexual assault from one of the show’s producers, she claims.
While the actress alleges that she made a “feeble” attempt to tell her costars during the filming of season 2, the Eastsiders alum was scared that her story wasn’t “bad enough” to “merit my feelings.”
“What was I supposed to say? That he complimented my smooth skin and shared harmless little jokes with me and pressured me to sign with one of the top agencies in Hollywood and touched me over my denim jean shorts?” she writes. “And did it even count if most of it happened when I was off the clock? I felt like a hot, engorged tomato in a microwave: already thin-skinned to begin with and then permeated all over by invisible toxic waves … ready to burst at any moment.”
While Wu explains that she “never went to HR, never reported it,” no one “encouraged” her to either. After seeing people she had opened up to about the assault share “affection” with her assaulter, Wu reveals she would “retreat to my trailer to weep.”
Scroll down for more revelations from Wu’s new memoir: