During a panel promoting their upcoming series, Kung Fu stars Olivia Liang and Tzi Ma responded to the rising number of violent acts against Asian Americans, condemning the latest incident in Atlanta when a gunman killed eight people, a majority of whom were Asian American.
“What happened last night in Atlanta with eight people killed breaks my heart and I’m not quite sure what the short term fix is,” said Ma, who appears in the upcoming series as Jin, the father of Liang’s Nicky Shen. “We are the long-term solution.”
“It pains me, everyday it happens, everyday it’s something,” he added.
While Ma said he’s unsure of any quick fix to bring justice to the victims or undo the racist attacks, he said Asian American representation in television and media are part of long-term goals. Liang agreed with her co-star, adding that “the timing of our show is really impeccable.”
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Written by Christina M. Kim and inspired by the original series created by Ed Spielman, in the new Kung Fu, a quarter-life crisis causes a young Chinese American woman, Nicky Shen (Liang), to drop out of college and go on a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. But when she returns to San Francisco, she finds her hometown is overrun with crime and corruption and her own parents Jin (Tzi Ma) and Mei-Li (Kheng Hua Tan) are at the mercy of a powerful Triad. Nicky will rely on her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice…all while searching for the ruthless assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor Pei-Ling (Vanessa Kai) and is now targeting her.
Liang said that while the Kung Fu reboot may be a notable moment for the Asian Americans in Hollywood, she said that representation and inclusion in media isn’t solely for the AAPI community.
“We need to be invited to people’s homes who don’t see us in their everyday life just to humanize us, normalize seeing us and remind them that we are people just like they are and that we have a place in this world,” she said. “Hopefully having this show in their homes will expand their world view.”
Also condemning the racist attacks was Kung Fu executive producer and co-showrunner Christina M. Kim, who said the Atlanta shooting was”absolutely sad and tragic.” She echoed her stars’ points about representation in media and how her show can be apart of bringing about cultural awareness and acceptance.
Kim wrote the pilot episode and serves as executive producer/co-showrunner of the series with Robert Berens. Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Martin Gero and David Madden also serve as executive producers. Hanelle Culpepper is directing and co-executive producing the pilot episode. Kung Fu is produced by Berlanti Productions and Quinn’s House in association with Warner Bros. Television.
Kung Fu premieres Wednesday, April 7 on the CW.