The 2022 MAKERS Conference kicked off Monday night with a star-studded lineup of powerful females onstage in Dana Point, Calif. Crazy Rich Asians actress and author Constance Wu sat down with Loretta J. Ross, human rights activist and co-founder of SisterSong, to talk about Wu’s new memoir, Making a Scene. The book of essays details the sexual harassment Wu says she faced on the set of Fresh Off the Boat and the social media backlash that drove her to attempt suicide in 2019. Ross asked Wu if it was hard for her family to read about what had happened to her. “They haven't talked about it to me yet because Asian families avoid the uncomfortable conversations!” Wu said. “So no one's been, like, ‘Oh, I didn't know you were raped.’” Wu said that this fear of facing tough issues keeps her community from addressing mental health problems. “If we can't even have the vulnerability to say to our parents or them to say to us, ‘I love you,’ then how will we have the vulnerability to be, like, ‘I need help’?” Wu told Ross. “So opening up that conversation, instead of just focusing on all the positive parts of our culture, I think is an important first step of admitting that you need help because things aren't perfect.”
When Ross asked the actress what it felt like to take a three-year hiatus from social media, she answered immediately, “Fantastic!” Wu said when she finally returned to social media, she had a different mindset. “My biggest goal was to help people who were going through what I went through. And it's going to be through talking about my experience through social media and letting them know it's OK to seek help. And so that's why I ultimately came back is because — even though I was scared of it — the way it might help somebody meant more to me than my fear of it did.”
Jessica Alba, actress and Yahoo board member, also joined the MAKERS stage with Yahoo CEO Jim Lanzone. She explained why she transitioned away from Hollywood in 2011 to become the founder and CEO of the Honest Company, a business that creates safe, nontoxic beauty, baby and home products. That company is now worth an estimated $550 million. “I think I realized that I was giving it my everything and my identity was so connected and attached to it. And it's like the boyfriend that never like really wants to commit or call back. And that's, like, a horrible relationship dynamic,” said Alba. “So I had to learn how to have a healthy disconnect from it so that I could have a sense of self beyond my relationship with this business.”
The Fantastic Four actress said although it may seem like she’s a real-life Marvel superhero, that’s not her reality. And she’s OK with that. “I don't do it all well. And I am really candid with my faults,” Alba said. “It's hard to express those emotions with my kids, but I think it's really important for them to see that I am not a superhero. And I think it's important for them to see that it's OK to make mistakes and not have it all together.”
For more engaging discussions with some of the most powerful names in business, entertainment, tech and more, be sure to join the MAKERS Conference livestream. The conference runs through October 26.