When Constance Wu landed her first career Golden Globe nomination, “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu was one of the first to ring with emotional early-morning congratulations. The historic nature of Wu’s lead actress, comedy, nomination, for her turn as Asian American rom-com heroine Rachel Chu, keeps sinking in, making the already-groundbreaking Warner Bros. hit — which is also nominated for best picture, comedy — even more worthy of celebration.
How has your morning been?
It’s been kind of surreal. I had my phone on do-not-disturb mode so I got kind of a late start on it, but it’s unbelievable. I’m so excited!
You had your phone on do-not-disturb? Were you avoiding the nominations announcement?
I wasn’t avoiding it; I guess I didn’t know it was that early! Because it was super early. My phone is generally always on do-not-disturb mode from midnight to 7 a.m. I haven’t made any calls yet; I’ve only received them.
One of your first conversations this morning after hearing the news was with your “Crazy Rich Asians” director, Jon M. Chu. What did it mean to share this moment with him?
None of this would have happened without him and his amazing vision. To have all of us in this together has been so exciting, and to have him be so excited for me just means so much … it’s really moving.
Were you aware that so few Asian women actors have been nominated for the Golden Globe before?
My publicist did the research! As far as Asian Americans go, not Asian Asians, there have been two others: [Yvonne Elliman, “Jesus Christ Superstar”] and Hailee Steinfeld [“Edge of Seventeen”] and me — in the leading category.
Does it resonate even more to be nominated, in a lead acting category, for an Asian American-centered film, knowing this?
It definitely does, because I stress so much how culture is more than how you look. It’s the environment and the country you grew up in. So to have a nomination for a type of role that isn’t supporting another culture’s story, but is actually telling an Asian American story and is leading the story – that is more meaningful than being a diversity check box. That’s actually what representation is. And I hope that four or five others are nominated next year in leading categories.
You’ve been carrying the banner for representation a lot this year. How has being in the center of this conversation affected you?
I’ve always been pretty passionate, but it’s really heartening to me to see so many people in support of a cause and a story that before was kind of put off to the sidelines. It’s great to see, not just Asian people, but all people support this movie and say that they love this type of story told by Asian Americans and Asians from other countries.
How do you view how your work and your activism dovetail?
The thing that I have always really felt good about is bringing awareness by just creating content. The fact that we as Asian Americans have made a story that’s being recognized. It’s really the work of creating that is a big part of activism — just doing it. That’s something that I’m really excited about. And of course, my activism informs my work. My activism is about humanity.
Last year at the Golden Globes, members of Time’s Up made a symbolic statement of solidarity by wearing black. Do you expect we’ll see a similar coordinated effort at this year’s ceremony?
I don’t know if it’s going to be a clothing statement, but the solidarity and the sisterhood that we have is always there and is growing every day — so it will 100% be there at the Golden Globes. Maybe not in terms of wardrobe, but in terms of passion? For sure.