Three years after Constance Wu stepped back from the public eye after facing backlash over social media posts about her career, the actress has returned to Twitter to open up about mental health, revealing she attempted suicide in the aftermath of the controversy.
“After a little break from Hollywood and a lot of therapy, I feel OK enough to venture back on here (at least for a little bit),” Wu tweeted in a statement Thursday. “And even though I’m scared, I’ve decided that I owe it to the me-of-3-years-ago to be brave and share my story so that it might help someone with theirs.”
In 2019, the “Crazy Rich Asians” star drew controversy over two unhappy tweets, each underlined with an expletive, sent less than an hour after her ABC comedy “Fresh Off the Boat” was renewed for a sixth season. She later followed up with posts expressing gratitude for the renewal and pride in working on the show, and explained why she was initially upset.
“I love FOTB. I was temporarily upset yesterday not bc I hate the show but bc its renewal meant i had to give up another project that I was really passionate about,” she wrote at the time. “So my dismayed social media replies were more about that other project and not about FOTB.”
In her Thursday post, Wu noted she was hesitant to return to social media “because I almost lost my life from it.”
She continued: “3 years ago, when I made careless tweets about the renewal of my TV show, it ignited outrage and internet shaming that got pretty sever. I felt awful about what I’d said, and when a few DMs from a fellow Asian actress told me I’d become a blight on the Asian American community, I started feeling like I didn’t even deserve to live anymore.”
“Looking back, it’s surreal that a few DMs convinced me to end my own life, but that’s what happened. Luckily, a friend found me and rushed me to the ER.”
Wu remembers the situation as a “scary moment that made me reassess a lot in my life,” leading to her focusing less on her career and more on her mental health. (In the past three years, she has made just a handful of appearances in TV shows and animated films following few years of building up blockbuster and critical acclaim.)
Now, she’s speaking out about mental health in the Asian American community, which she says is not talked about enough.
“While we’re quick to celebrate representation wins, there’s a lot of avoidance around the more uncomfortable issues within our community,” she said. “Even my tweets became a subject so touch that most of my (Asian American) colleagues decided that was the time to avoid me or ice me out. I’ll admit it hurt a lot, but it also made me realize how important it is to reach out and care for people who are going through a hard time.”
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Wu shared that during her social media hiatus, she wrote a book titled “Making a Scene.” USA TODAY has reached out to her publisher for more information. She knows her book won’t always offer “the most flattering portrayal” of herself, but ultimately aims to “help people talk about the uncomfortable stuff in order to understand it, reckon with it, and open pathways to healing.”
She added: “If we want to be seen, really seen… we need to let all of ourselves be seen, including the parts we’re scared of or ashamed of – parts that, however imperfect, require care and attention. And we need to stop beating each other (and ourselves) up when we do.”
Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.
Contributing: Sara M. Moniuszko and Bill Keveney