Speaking to The Atlantic, Constance alleged that the “harassment and intimidation” happened during her first two seasons on the show, but said she chose not to speak out at the time due to the sitcom’s success.
“I had a traumatic experience my first couple years on that show,” she shared, “and nobody knew about it because that show was historic for Asian Americans. And it was the only show on network television in over 20 years to star Asian Americans, and I did not want to sully the reputation of the one show we had representing us.”
“And so therefore, 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,” she continued. “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.’”
But Constance said that eventually, that suppressed pain resurfaced. “The thing is, bad feelings don’t go away just because you will them to. They’re inevitably going to come out,” she added, citing that as the reason for her angry tweets that went viral when the show got renewed in 2019.
“I made some very profane, reckless tweets that sort of ignited this whole pile-on of hatred towards me because I’d just had a hit movie, Crazy Rich Asians, so it looked really bad from the outside. ‘Oh she thinks she’s this big movie star,’ when really it was just like, I wanted to have a fresh slate where I didn’t have to start a show with all of these memories of abuse.”
“Because everyday — a few people knew what was happening and to go to work everyday and see those people who knew that he was sexually harassing me being buddy-buddy with him, it felt like a betrayal every time,” Constance said, as her voice began to crack. “So to have to see that at work everyday — and of course, I don’t blame them because he could fire them too, right? Everybody’s looking out for their own job, but it felt like a betrayal.”
Still, Constance said that her issues were never with the crew or the show itself. “I loved everybody on that crew and I loved working on that show, but it had that history of abuse that it started with,” she shared.
“And even though I handled it after two years, I was looking forward to a clean slate, so I feel like those tweets that came out were the emotions I suppressed, that I thought I could will away coming out in another way, and it negatively affected my career.”
“But in many ways, it positively affected me personally because it made me take a break from my career, made me go to therapy to understand it, and ultimately made me come out better,” she concluded.
Constance writes about her experiences in her upcoming book, Making a Scene. You can see her talking more about it here.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.