Olivia Liang is TV’s newest practitioner of ‘Kung Fu’

Actress is studying martial arts for CW adventure-series reboot

Olivia Liang of ‘Kung Fu’ Wednesday on The CW

Q: So much of “Kung Fu” expectedly involves physicality for you, did you know martial arts coming into the project?

A: I did not have any prior martial-arts training — thank goodness that was not a requirement from (executive producer) Christina (Kim) — but I have a background in dance, so once I came up here (to Vancouver) to train, I was able to at least pick up the choreography. Martial arts, and especially martial arts for film and TV, is very much a dance.

The training was brutal, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever put my body through. I’ve so much respect for martial artists. It is an incredible sport. It is an art form. It’s beautiful. Our stunt team has whipped me into shape, but I also have an amazing double who makes me look so cool. 

Q: Have you been at all familiar with the original 1970s “Kung Fu” show that starred David Carradine?

A: The series was a little bit before my time, but when I was auditioning for the role and eventually booked the role of Nicky, I did look at clips and looked at the original. I think what’s carried on from the original and his character into this is that sense of wanting to fight for the underdog, a sense of duty … not necessarily being a hero and seeking that out. 

Q: What are your thoughts on the new “Kung Fu” arriving when news stories involving Asian Americans have been so prominent?

A: I think the timing of our show is really impeccable. 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 homes of people 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. Hopefully, having our show in their homes will expand that world view for them.

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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