By: Jess Canty
I have held off on writing about Constance Wu's explative-filled tirade on twitter because I didn't want to be reactive. I wanted to see if more would be revealed. I wanted to give it a chance to calm down and see if there was more to the story. Because I don't know Constance Wu.
We rarely know what truly goes on behind the scenes of a project unless we are actually there. After 20 years in LA I have come to be on the cynical side of knowing that the old adage "there's no such thing as bad press" is largely true.
My 20+ years in LA has been a lesson in learning just how much the business dictates the art around here. Like that meeting I had with a very expensive branding company when I did a short stint in PR and I learned that "pass the Courvoisier" had actually started as "pass the Hennessy" but Hennessy didn't want to pay to be mentioned in the song - and then they shared a laugh about shaking it like a Polaroid - which "paid for the album." I understand that there are times when what we see isn't the full story.
But what has been nagging me about the Constance Wu kerfuffle is that ultimately, no matter what the story, she was willing to appear publicly ungrateful. And I think that is why people are reacting to her negativity. If you haven't read up on what has been happening here is one article...
Being an actor at this level requires a strange combination of personality traits: you need to have a big enough / strong enough ego to believe in yourself enough to put up with the constant rejection of job-searching. But you also need to be willing to be vulnerable and open in your performance.
And then when you make it big you are surrounded by people who tell you that you are fabulous all the time, and work to help get you the projects you want so you can share more and more of yourself with the world. Add fame into the mix and that is one heady cocktail.
But the thing is - we should all know this by now. Enough people have been lured by fame only to remind us that it isn't all its cracked up to be that this shouldn't be a surprise to ANYONE. It has never been lost on me that the two performers who first reached world-wide icon status - Marilyn and Elvis - did not meet peaceful, happy endings.
I have often said that I believe that the people with the longest careers, those who work until they can't work any longer - are the nicest. But I think in light of Constance Wu's behavior I want to amend this statement. I think these people that last are the most grateful.
They are ambitious of course, but they don't let that ambition ever overtake their gratitude.
Things never should have gotten to the point where Constance sent that tweet. That tweet, and the subsequent writing of "dislike" on the FOTB page announcing the renewal is just a symptom of a deeper brokenness.
One of my first thoughts is "where was her team" in all of this - but then I remembered, if you are a person that is ungrateful, you probably don't have much of a team around you that will work to prevent you creating a big pile of shit and then stepping in it. That, or they have prevented many similar tirades in the past and this one just slipped through.
She is not the first actor that may lose out on a project they really want, and she won't be the last. If the role was meant to be yours it will come back around, or the production will wait for you. Or you will have such a great relationship with the show you are on that they would be willing to help you work around the problem. None of which seemed to happen here. Or worse, absolutely could have happened, but her petulant short-sided attitude prevented that from being a possibility.
But even after all of this what has really been nagging at me, about her behavior is that she put her desire to capitalize on her newfound movie stardom ahead of the hundreds of people who make FOTB go. The riggers and gaffers and makeup artists and accountants who will never have a drop of fame. Who aren't doing what they do for any public recognition - not to mention her fellow cast-mates, writers and other creators.
She forgot that she is not the only one employed by the "company" that is FOTB. That she is not the only one with dreams. Sure, she is being impacted by not getting to do another project, but she ultimately is saying that this is worth 200 people losing their jobs. And people that have helped her get to a place where she even has that choice in front of her. At least she will be given a bit of a taste of her own medicine when she has to return to work with all of them.
Be grateful - no matter where you are in your career. Be grateful you have the luxury of lofty dreams- most people in this world still "lead lives of quiet desperation." Understand that yes, you are talented, but getting paid to be an artist is a privilege, be it for a day, a year or an entire career.