The new “Kung Fu” debuts at a crucial time for Asian Americans


New York (AP) — Up-and-coming actors may claim to know a variety of skills to consider about their roles, but Olivia Liang set boundaries early in her career.

“When I started in the industry, people asked me why martial arts weren’t on my resume because it was a typecast for Asians to play the role of martial arts,” Liang said. Told. “I would never learn martial arts until someone paid me to learn martial arts,” I thought.

Liang kept that promise. She learned martial arts as the leader of a new series of CW. Kung fu —And she is rewarded for it.

“Kung Fu” is inspired by the 1972 series starring David Carradine. It starred Liang as Nicky Shen, who joins a monastery where she is taught Shaolin values ​​and martial arts while visiting China. When her mentor is killed, she returns home and finds the community confused by local gangsters. She must use the martial arts skills she has learned to protect her neighborhood and family, and soon realizes that she is being targeted by the same assassin who killed the Shaolin leader.

Liang says that what sets Kung Fu apart from superhero shows is that CW is famous for Nicky’s lack of vigilance.

“Nicky is heroic, but she doesn’t consider herself a hero. She doesn’t have a hero complex to go out to find the bad guys. She sees bad things happening, I feel I need to do something about it. “

The series is mostly cast by Asian-Americans, starring Asian-American showrunner and executive producer Christina M. Kim. “I’m so excited that I can give some people this opportunity to shine,” Kim said.

“When I first arrived on the set, we tested the camera, and I was literally staring at the monitor, and it just hit me.” The face of an Asian American like this. I’ve never seen a screen full of stuff. “

Kim says her writer’s room is also diverse. Her staff has five Asian writers. Half of the writers are also women, and Kim says this is new. “Usually it’s just me and the other woman in the room.”

“Kung Fu” will premiere on CW on Wednesday and pilots will be rebroadcast on TNT on Sunday.

Tzi Ma, who plays Nicky’s father Jin, doesn’t have to explain the Asian experience to those who make creative assumptions, so many people with Asian backgrounds are working on the show. Says notable.

“Not only does it appear on the screen, but it also backs up from the writer’s room to all guest directors. It’s a spectacular sight. I’ve been doing this for a minute and haven’t seen any makeup like this.” Ma says.

Ma hopes that the credibility of the series will help change public awareness in the next era. Hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise.

“The camera is a very interesting instrument. Ultimately, I want the viewer to see what the actual expression of reputation looks like. And when they are educated … what are they? Will begin to develop their preference for what is good, what is true, and what is true. “

The Asian-American community is also paying attention not only to see their stories on TV, but also to see how they are being communicated. Valerie Soe, a professor of Asian-American Studies at San Francisco State University, wants to pay attention to what images producers and writers present to their viewers.

“The tricky part will be for those who are in charge of keeping the show from turning too much into old stereotypes and metaphors,” she said of the gangster’s story as potentially problematic. I will. Gangsters and villains. “

Overall, Soe states that the series is a victory as it is another example of an Asian-American story being told.

“There is the phrase” richness of the story “used by the author Viet Thanh Nguyen. You don’t have to stick to one, as there are so many different stories to choose from. Does “Crazy Rich Asians” represent us accurately? Does “Joylac Club” represent us accurately? “Well, without it, we have another one,” she said.

“More fun. Not everything is great and I don’t think everything will be what we want. But if you have a lot of different options, you can’t expect everything from one.”

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