Constance Wu: Why I'm Going to the Women's March on Washington (Q&A)

Constance Wu - H - 2017

"Having a march in Washington that is headlined and frontlined and led by women is a statement about the patriarchal standards that we don’t even see because they are so woven into the fabric of our existence," the actress says.

Constance Wu wants to add her voice to the ranks of those who, as Rep. John Lewis recently put it, think Donald Trump will be an "illegitimate" president.

This week, the actress is taking some time off from working on the production of her ABC show, Fresh Off the Boat, to head to Washington D.C. for the inauguration. Namely, she'll be taking part in Planned Parenthood events and she's part of a lineup of artists at the star-studded Women's March on Washington protest on January 21. 

The actress spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her plans, and why it makes sense to show up and make her voice heard at the capital now. (This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

At what point did decide to join the demonstration and travel to D.C. for the inauguration?

I decided I wanted to do it awhile ago, after the election. However, I had to sort of clear my schedule with production on my show, Fresh Off the Boat. But everyone on my show was fully in support of it, so they were really helpful and supportive in carving out the shooting schedule in such a way that I could attend. 

I, like many people, was a huge Hillary supporter — like the popular vote shows. I was definitely surprised by the election results. But, because I work in an industry where there is a very gross double standard for women and perfection and success and a gross type of forgiveness of flawed men in this industry — I mean you can harass women and still win all the awards, as long as your acting is good.

I’m in an industry that supports that patriarchal structural framework. And I think having a march in Washington that is headlined and frontlined and led by women is a statement about the patriarchal standards that we don’t even see because they are so woven into the fabric of our existence. 

And Hollywood is just a heightened example of that, because Hollywood is where storytelling and narratives are made. I think they actually have a significant impact on perpetuating this type of thinking. So I think it’s important that artists stand up and that women, in particular, to stand up for other women who are flawed and talented and smart and interesting and human and whole. So that’s why I’m going. 

What message do you hope to send to the president-elect from the march?

Oh, goodness, so many. I don’t think there’s any message that, I personally, can send that he hasn’t already heard and tried to avoid and lie about. From the popular vote. From really diligent, vigilant journalists. From many very well-respected artists who refused to support his inauguration. Many well-respected politicians who refused to support his inauguration. 

What I add is just another voice of support to the already overwhelming hordes of dissent of people who do not think he is a legitimate president. 

There’s going to be a lot of other activity on the National Mall in the coming days. Are you going to be attending any other demonstrations or, also, watching the swearing-in ceremony? 

I’m not going to be participating in any event that even comes close to legitimizing Donald Trump’s electoral win of the presidency. I will be going to some Planned Parenthood events that they have that weekend. 

There have been a lot of headlines about performers who are boycotting the inauguration or dropping out of events after criticism. What do you think of that?

I think it’s great. I think it’s a form of freedom of speech. I think if you have a talent that you value and that other people value, and you’re seeking to create meaning in your life, I think you’re allowed to make choices about where you utilize your talent in a way that brings meaning and fulfillment and worth to your life. 

And if singing or dancing in the inauguration sort of takes away from your sense of self and the things you stand for, then of course artists shouldn’t do that. That’s what artists and singers and storytellers do — they tell narratives that are about the things that matter to humanity. It’s a great exercise in choice of where to lend your talents and why. 

As Trump takes office, in what ways do you plan to stay politically engaged or encourage others to do so? 

I really think narrative storytelling, the reason why I’m in this industry, has an impact on encouraging people to see different stories as whole human stories and not as just supporting characters that are there to lift up our own personal narrative. It takes you out of your self-absorbed existence and makes you have empathy for another point of view. 

So I would like to continue lending my talents to projects that promote whole, human, flawed, interesting narratives of Asian Americans and Asian American women and women of color.