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Kung Fu's Olivia Liang Is Proud to Be Part of a 'New Narrative' About Asian-Americans

And reveals why she's so excited for people to see this show

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Megan Vick

The cast and crew behind The CW's Kung Fu have been waiting over a year to share their show with the world. Over the course of that year, the world went through a pandemic, the United States changed presidents, and, in the last month alone, mainstream media picked up on a large uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes happening across the country. The show, which is one of the first full-hour broadcast dramas with a mostly Asian cast, will debut on April 7, and series star Olivia Liang couldn't be more proud to bring this show to the world at this current moment. 

"When we initially started making this pilot in March 2020, we knew the show would be historic and would be impactful and important. The show premiering in April 2021, it really does hit different in light of everything that's going on in the world. I just feel very, very, honored to be part of the new narrative of Asian-Americans and helping shape it at a time where we really need more representation," Liang told TV Guide ahead of the series premiere. 

Liang plays Nicky Shen in the series, a woman in her mid-20s who runs away to a Shaolin monastery during a quarter-life crisis in order to avoid her mother trying to push her into marriage. When a mysterious assassin shows up at the monastery and kills Nicky's mentor, she must return home and face everyone she had deserted three years prior. 

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"When I first read the script, I was like, 'Okay, I totally see myself in Nicky. I am basically Nicky.' I think Nicky is all of us," Liang explained. "She's a girl who for the majority of her life was controlled by decisions that her mom made or wanted to make for her. She realized she's never made an independent decision, and then she kind of reaches a breaking point, runs away to a Shaolin Monastery to learn Kung Fu -- as one does." 

The Kung Fu will come in handy as Nicky gets in a literal fight to save her neighborhood from injustice and a crime lord who is trying to take over. When she's not basically being a superhero, Nicky has to do the messy work of putting her life back together. Once she's home she realizes that so much has changed since she left, including herself. Not only did Nicky learn martial arts while she was away, she learned to become her own person. But an even bigger existential problem lies ahead for the protagonist.

"She's a new woman, but she has to deal with the woman that she left behind, and kind of repair relationships that she also left behind; and all the while, figuring out what her purpose and what her meaning in life is. I think we can all relate to that because we're all always at a crossroads and always feeling a little bit [like a] fish out of water." 

So Nicky not only has your typical quarter-life identity crisis, but also is trying to be a hero and avenge her mentor all at the same time. She may be relatable, but we're kind of glad we don't have to deal with that. However, we can't wait to watch her take it all on.

Kung Fu premieres Wednesday, April 7 at 8/7c on The CW. 

Olivia Liang, Kung Fu

CW