‘Kung Fu’ Team on Using Media Representation to Combat Anti-Asian Racism

Danielle Turchiano
·3-min read

The cast and creator of The CW’s upcoming “Kung Fu” reboot are using their platform to condemn the recent influx in anti-Asian hate crimes.

“So much about representation and inclusion is not so much that we as Asians need to see ourselves represented on the screens, but we need to be invited into people’s homes who don’t see us in everyday lives, just to humanize us, normalize seeing us, remind them that we are just like they are and have a place in this world. And hopefully having our show in their homes will expand that worldview for them,” said actor Olivia Liang during a virtual panel for the drama on Wednesday.

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Added creator and showrunner Christina M. Kim: “I hope that we are part of the solution and having a show like ours on the air, you know, makes us part of the narrative and brings about cultural awareness acceptance.”

The day after six Asian women and two others were killed in an Atlanta shooting, The CW presented the previously scheduled panel as planned. In addition to discussing the show’s theme of family and intense stunt work, they addressed ​violence and racism against Asian Americans and the events of the previous day head-on.

“What happened last night in Atlanta with eight people killed breaks my heart. I’m not quite sure what the short-term fix is. I believe we are the long-term solution: to do our show, to show the world who we are, and hopefully those messages will come out loud and clear about representation, about inclusion. Those are part of our long-term goals,” said actor Tzi Ma.

“It pains me. Every day it happens. At first there was no coverage and then there’s coverage. Everyone I know and don’t know talked about it, from the president on down, including the House of Representatives, and it still goes on every day,” he continued.

“Kung Fu,” which premieres on April 7 on The CW, stars Liang as Nicky Shen, a young Chinese American woman who spends time in an isolated monastery in China, where she learns martial arts. Upon her return to her hometown of San Francisco, she learns crime and corruption have touched everyone, including her own parents (played by Ma and Kheng Hua Tan). She then relies on some trusted allies, as well as her own martial arts skills and Shaolin values to become a protector of her community — all while also searching for the ruthless assassin who killed her mentor.

“‘Kung Fu’ is all about social justice,” said Tan. “Episode after episode, you see every single character trying to rise above their own inhibitions or fears, to do what is right. You see characters of all ages and walks of life trying to work together to do what is best for the community to help. It doesn’t come easy, I think. I think that the characters go through many challenges in order to find what it is that works as a group. I’m hoping that audiences that actually see characters, like the ones that are represented in ‘Kung Fu,’ overcoming challenges will find inspiration to maybe adopt that and do that for themselves in their real lives.”

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