If the name 'Constance Wu' isn't ringing some major bells for you, you probably haven't been paying attention.
As the star of 2018's breakout romantic comedy, Crazy Rich Asians, a passionate advocate for diversity on screen and an emerging fashion star with a handful of stellar red carpet appearances under her belt, Constance is poised to be the breakout actress of 2018.
Fans of Fresh Off The Boat—the highly successful small screen adaptation of Eddie Huang's best-selling novel—will recognise Wu as matriarch Jessica Huang, but it's her turn as the romantic lead in Crazy Rich Asians that has transformed Wu to fully-fledged silver screen darling.
Constance plays Rachel Chu, a New York-based economics professor who is thrust into the surreal world of Singaporean high society when her charming boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) takes her home for a family wedding. Nick, as it turns out, is a secret billionaire, whose Crazy Rich family includes an intimidating and disapproving matriarch, his mother Eleanor (played by iconic actress Michelle Yeoh), who Rachel must win over.
At its heart Crazy Rich Asians is a classic romantic comedy dealing with universal themes, which probably explains why it went on to smash all box office expectations when it was released in the USA earlier this month (estimations marked the film to take in $20 million USD in the opening weekend—it took in $34 million). Oh, and there's a sequel on the way.
But the film also represents a depressing record: The first Hollywood film starring Asian-American leads in 25 years.
"Before CRA, I hadn't even done a tiny part in a studio film, I never dreamed I would get to star in one," Wu wrote in a heartfelt open letter on Twitter before the film's US release in early August. "I had never seen that happen to someone who looked like me. CRA is changing that."
Wu is rightly applauded for breaking down doors and smashing stereotypes but it's also worth noting that her success isn't a result of her race, it's her acting prowess, bucket loads of charisma and deft comedic timing, all of which converge in her role as Rachel—a performance that is likely to land her countless offers in Hollywood romantic comedies.
There's also the added element of Constance Wu's style. A self-confessed fashion obsessive, Wu counts Prabal Gurung as a friend and her favoured brands range from The Vampire's Wife to Versace and Johanna Ortiz. She calls wearing the couture gowns by Dior and Elie Saab in Crazy Rich Asians "a dream come true"—but outdid even the film's costume department at the world premiere this month, wearing a couture column gown by Ralph & Russo that took 490 hours to make and featured 90 carats of diamonds.
In short? Constance Wu is smart, beautiful, talented and funny: She's a girl after our own hearts.
*Crazy Rich Asians is in cinemas nation-wide now.*
This story first appeared on ELLE.com.au.