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New ‘Kung Fu’ Debuts at Crucial Time for Asian Americans | Lifestyles

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NEW YORK (AP) Emerging actors will sometimes claim to know a variety of skills to consider for roles, but Olivia Liang set a limit early in her career.

When I first started in the industry, people would ask me why martial arts weren’t on my resume because it was so typical for Asians to play martial arts roles, “Liang said.” So I made a promise to myself. I was like, I’ll never learn martial arts until someone pays me to learn martial arts. ‘”

Liang kept this promise. She learned martial arts as the leader of The CW’s new series, Kung Fu, and she gets paid for it.

Kung Fu is inspired by the 1972 series with David Carradine. It stars Liang as Nicky Shen, who, during her visit to China, joins a monastery where she learns Shaolin values ​​and martial arts. When her mentor is killed, she returns home to find her community disrupted by a local gang. She must use the martial arts skills she learned to protect her neighborhood and her family, and soon discovers that she is the target of the same assassin who killed her mentor Shaolin.

Liang says what makes Kung Fu different from the superhero shows The CW is known for is that Nicky isn’t a vigilante.

Nicky is heroic, but she doesn’t consider herself a hero. She doesn’t have a hero complex where she goes looking for villains. She sees bad things happening and feels like she needs to do something about it.

The series has a predominantly Asian-American cast with 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 was on set for the first time we did a camera test and I was literally looking at the monitor and it hit me. I was like, I’ve never seen the screen filled with Asian American faces like this. “

Kim says her writers’ room is diverse as well. It has five writers of Asian origin. Half of the writers are also women, which Kim says is new. Usually it’s just me and another woman in a room.

Kung Fu premieres Wednesday on The CW and the pilot will be rebroadcast on TNT on Sunday.

Tzi Ma, who plays Nicky’s dad, Jin, says it’s remarkable to have so many people of Asian descent working on the show because he doesn’t have to explain the Asian experience to people who do. creative assumptions about what it is.

Not only is there a representation on screen, but we are backing it up from our writers room to all of our guest directors. It is an incredible sight to see. I’ve been doing this for a minute now and I’ve never seen this kind of makeup, Ma said.

Ma is hopeful that the show’s authenticity will help change public awareness at a time when hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise.

The camera is a very interesting instrument. I want the audience to finally have the opportunity to see what the actual representation of reputation looks like. And when they are educated … they will begin to develop their taste for what is good, what is real 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 told. Valerie Soe, a professor in the Asian American Studies Department at San Francisco State University, hopes producers and writers will pay attention to the images presented to viewers.

The trickier part will be for those in charge of making sure the series doesn’t veer too much into older stereotypes and tropes. “She cites the gang scenario as potentially problematic because it promotes the theory” that all Asian men are gangsters and bad guys. “

Overall, Soe says the series is a win because it’s another example of an Asian American story being told.

There is a phrase called narrative plentitude that the author of Viet Thanh Nguyen uses to have a lot of different stories to choose from so that we don’t have to obsessively focus on just one. Like, is Crazy Rich Asians going to accurately represent us? Will ‘Joy Luck Club’ accurately represent us? ‘It’s like, Well, if that one doesn’t, then we’ve got that other,’ she said.

“The more the merrier. I think not everything will be fabulous and everything will not be exactly what we want. But, if you have a lot of different choices, then you aren’t expecting everything from one.”

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Follow Alicia Rancilio on http://www.twitter.com/aliciar

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