HomeBad Ass AsiansNanrisa Lee changes Asian female stereotypes in 'Quantum Leap'

Nanrisa Lee changes Asian female stereotypes in ‘Quantum Leap’

By Erin Chew, AsAmNews

The reboot of Quantum Leap on NBC wrapped up season 1 with its finale Monday night and all indications are that Nanrisa Lee who played Jen Chou will return for Season 2.

While the cast or premiere date of a second season has yet to be announced, Lee along with her fellow castmates all appeared at Wondercom 2023 in Anaheim late last month, a pretty good sign they will return. The peacock network previously announced it had renewed the series in December.

For Nanrisa Lee, one of her goals in pursuing acting is to represent and advocate for underrepresented groups, such as Asian Americans in entertainment. In a recent interview with AsAmNews, she discussed how she has been doing this with her role and how she hopes her character smashes the ceiling on how Asian American women in entertainment are perceived.

“To be honest, ever since I was a younger Nanrisa, I have always felt that I wanted to contribute to the world and the way I would do that is to change perceptions with my acting career. As Asian Americans and as women we are underrepresented and negative stereotypes are imposed upon us. I put effort into playing Jenn Chou to be awesome and to be a leader who smashes these stereotypes,” she said.

Playing Jenn Chou is something made of dreams for Lee. She mentioned that what she loves most about playing Chou is how strong she is as a person after going through the trauma of being a victim of crime and having also been convicted as a felon. In real life, Lee has not experienced being a victim or a felon, but says that she did inject traits of her own real-life personality into Chou, in the hopes of making her a more layered and complex character.

“I have never been a victim, nor been a convicted felon. But I do bring out of Jenn a sense of justice, reliability, independence and resourcefulness. Jenn is also very opinionated like I am, and this combined with her digital expertise and her past trauma makes her a very strong Asian woman.”

Fans of the original Quantum Leap, would be aware that it has been almost thirty years (yes, it has been that long), since Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now, with a reboot of the original, Quantum Leap has a new team led by physicist Ben Song (Raymond Lee) to restart the project in the hopes of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.

Raymond Lee (right) in Quantum Leap. NBC photo

But everything changes when Ben makes an unauthorized leap into the past, leaving his team behind to solve the mystery of why he did it. Among other scientists and programming experts who form part of this elite team, Jenn Chou (Nanrisa Lee) who heads up the digital security for the Quantum Leap project, shows how cool, awesome and badass Asian women are.

What is quite amazing about this team, is how culturally and gender diverse they all are. Working together with Chou, is military man Herbert “Magic” Williams (Ernie Hudson) who is African American and Ian “Ziggy” Wright (Mason Alexander Park) who identifies as they (non-binary) and is of Spanish and Mexican descent. And this is just the main cast – the supporting cast and guest roles are just as diverse.

Just being associated with the Quantum Leap franchise is unbelievable for Lee, because as a child she remembers having fond memories of watching the original series with her father. She fondly mentioned that when she got called for another audition for the series, the first thing she thought about was how excited her father was going to be and that made her even more determined to get the role and do more than justice for her character.

“When I got called back for another audition for the project, I thought about how excited my father would be. When I got the role, he was so proud and he reminisced how we would watch the original show together. It has really bought us closer together and knowing he is watching me in the series I know I must put in all I have to make him proud”, she proudly discussed.

Quantum Leap Season 1 can be viewed on Monday evenings on NBC.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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