Actress Constance Wu Named 2022 Convocation Speaker
Acclaimed actress and emerging producer and writer Constance Wu – known for her roles in the groundbreaking film ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and the series ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ – will deliver the keynote address at Senior summonsWednesday, May 25, at noon at Barton Hall.
The student-run 2022 Convening Committee announced the selection on April 21. The committee used a survey of the class to help them make their choice.
“The grassroots committee is a representative of our whole class, and it was important to us that we take on this responsibility,” said Isabella Ogbolumani ’22, a member of the committee. “The class wanted a well-known, funny and inspiring speaker. Constance Wu is so good because she ticks all of those boxes.
In-person attendance at this year’s convocation will be limited to undergraduate graduating students; additional space will be granted to graduate students and graduating professionals. The event will also take place on Senior Days rather than the Launch weekendreflecting a shift in focus from a broader audience – which in previous years included families and the public – towards undergraduates.
Although COVID-19 was a contributing factor to these changes, organizers saw this year as an opportunity to make the event more intimate and student-centric. Students will hear from Wu, Cornell management, the Convening Committee Chair, a student poet and guest, as well as student organizations and musical groups.
The event will be broadcast live on CornellCast. The launch will take place the following Saturday, May 28, and will be divided into two ceremonies.
“The decision to have a student-only convocation significantly altered the scale and nature of the event we had in mind,” said committee chair Lotoya Francis ’22. “Fortunately, we were able to pivot and readjust while staying true to our original values.
“Some of our first meetings were about sitting in a circle and being vulnerable about what graduating from Cornell means to us and our families,” Francis said. “We laughed and cried and made it a priority to choose a speaker who would honor the feelings we shared. We considered those of us in the class who come from immigrant families. We looked at the identities of speakers that we had in the past and wondered who was missing. We asked what our class needed after the wild college experience we had. We wanted to prioritize inspiration and fun.
Wu’s starring role in “Fresh off the Boat” earned her multiple Critics’ Choice Association nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and a spot on Time Magazine’s 2017 list of “100 Most Influential People.” . Airing from 2015 to 2020, the show was the first in over 20 years to focus on an Asian-American family, and in 2018 made history as the first American-run television show from Asian origin to reach syndication.
“Crazy Rich Asians” was the first studio film in over 25 years to feature an Asian American woman; released in 2018, it was a smash hit, becoming the most successful studio romantic comedy in nearly a decade. Wu received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, a Critics’ Choice nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy, and a Screen Actors’ Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast. in a movie, among other accolades.
Wu has many additional acting credits, including the films “I Was a Simple Man”, “Hustlers”, “Crow: The Legend”, “The Feels”, “Sound of My Voice”, “The Architect”, “Stephanie Daley” and the “Solos” series. She spoke candidly about the pressures and complexities of representing Asian Americans in an industry that has historically omitted the lives and experiences of minority groups.
Wu will star in a new thriller series, “The Terminal List,” alongside Chris Pratt and Taylor Kitsch, which debuts July 1, and a movie, “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile,” starring Javier Bardem and Winslow Fegley, whose release is scheduled for this fall.
In addition to acting, Wu recently launched a production venture with Justine Jones; they collaborate with studio Entertainment One to develop and produce scripted series. Simon & Schuster will also publish Wu’s memoir as an essay, “Making a Scene,” in October.
Wu holds a BFA in Acting from the State University of New York at Purchase’s Conservatory of Theater Arts and Film.