“I kept my mouth shut for a really long time,” the actress said while addressing the allegations during a a panel discussion.
Author Maureen Lee Lenker
Wu has not named the producer, and refers to him only as “M—” in her book.
“I kept my mouth shut for a really long time about a lot of sexual harassment and intimidation that I received the first two seasons of the show,” Wu said Friday on stage at the Atlantic Festival in Washington, D.C. “Because after the first two seasons, once it was a success, once I was no longer scared of losing my job, that’s when I was able to start saying no to the harassment, no to the intimidation, from this particular producer. And, so I thought, ‘You know what? I handled it. Nobody has to know. I don’t have to stain this Asian American producer’s reputation. I don’t have to stain the reputation of the show.'”
An ABC representative declined to comment on Wu’s allegations.
Wu told the Times she was initially reluctant to write about her experiences on Fresh Off the Boat, including her now infamous tweets expressing dismay at the show’s renewal for a sixth season. (“So upset right now that I’m literally crying,” Wu tweeted. “Ugh.”) But at her publisher’s urging, she finally put pen to paper and found herself opening up about what she went through.
In a chapter titled “You Do What I Say,” Wu describes a pattern of harassment and intimidation allegedly perpetrated by M—, the producer. She writes that he began by exercising total control over her career, using the common refrain “You do what I say.” As a newcomer in the television industry, Wu says she didn’t realize how off-base many of their interactions were at first.
Wu alleges that the producer’s control led to her signing with his suggested agent, and that he often intervened in her business matters, insisting he be kept in the loop at all times. Gradually, she says, the producer began to comment on Wu’s physical appearance, making comments about his preference for her haircut and dictating what she wore, as well as keeping tabs on her auditions, publicist, and even her friends and what parties she attended.
Wu writes that the producer regularly made offensive comments or jokes, which she would play off, and often asked her for selfies late at night.
| Credit: Jon Kopaloff/Getty
Ultimately, Wu alleges, this led to an incident of physical harassment when she and M— attended a basketball game together at his insistence. There, she alleges that he placed his hand on her thigh, eventually grazing her crotch over her denim shorts. She writes of fending off his advances, and says that this was a one-time occurrence.
“Aside from that basketball game, he never touched me inappropriately,” Wu writes. “To be honest, it didn’t feel like a big deal at the time. I was fine. Happy, even! I was genuinely grateful for his support, and it made him feel good to protect me, too. It was a win-win situation where he was the helpful to my helpless. But to maintain that dynamic he needed me to be helpless. And for a while… I was.”
Wu writes that eventually she grew to feel more empowered, and her relationship with M— soured when she refused to go to a film festival that he wanted her to attend. She adds that she eventually told members of the cast and crew about her experiences with the producer, only to feel isolated when they continued to interact with him.
In the same chapter, Wu also explains and apologizes for her reaction to the Fresh Off the Boat season 5 renewal renewal, writing that her outburst stemmed from her own trauma on the set, not from ingratitude. And she opens up about attempting to take her own life in the aftermath of the backlash she faced for the tweets.
“When I spoke beautifully about representation, everyone loved it. But the second they had a chance to find a crack in my facade…” Wu tearfully told the Times. “It’s funny. It was almost gleeful. It was almost like they couldn’t wait to tear me down. I think the Asian community in Hollywood is still hyper-focused on positive representation, which to me is an illusion. Whole, human representation is more complex. And I think it’s interesting to me how, at that time, when I most could have used their help, they were the people who shamed me.”