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Raymond Lee focuses more on his Asian identity in Quantum Leap

By Erin Chew

Raymond Lee is one of just two Asian American leading men currently playing on network television.

Now in the second season of Quantum Leap, Lee, who reprised his role as Dr. Song is quantum leaping into new adventures that touches on serious issues. In a recent interview with AsAmNews, Lee talks about season two episodes and how they are different from the first season. He also referenced certain episodes which made a huge imprint in his heart and mind, due to how real they became to him.

“Season two of Quantum Leap is definitely different from season one and I feel Asian Americans will be able to relate to it more. For me personally, and I am sure for many Korean Americans, the Koreatown riots episode feels so real because it was a major event in history. I helped a lot in the writing of this episode because my mom owned a business in Koreatown and I would help her out during off school periods. One day she comes home and doesn’t go to work for days as everything around her had burned down. That trauma empowered me in being a consultant for this particular episode”, Lee stated.

It’s been nearly 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now, a new team, led by physicist Ben Song (Raymond Lee), has been assembled to restart the project in the hope of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it.

"The Outsider" Episode 211 -- Pictured: Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song --
“The Outsider” Episode 211 — Pictured: Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song — (Photo by: Jordin Althaus:NBC)

Song finds himself traveling through different centuries as part of a science experiment, trying to solve problems of the past and indirectly re-write history. At Ben’s side throughout his leaps is Addison (Caitlin Bassett), who appears in the form of a hologram only Ben can see and hear. She’s a decorated Army veteran who brings level-headed precision to her job.

In many ways, Song is the new and possibly improved Beckett, thirty years later, and this is quite significant considering Quantum Leap is a famous series title. Lee reflects upon this and spoke about how honored he felt to fill these shoes as it was a series he grew up watching with his father.

“What is amazing and incredible about the original Quantum Leap and what our adaptation is also aspiring to do is that both versions made people feel different. Those who were fans of the original, also love this new version and says it’s definitely not the same. I can’t believe I am a part of this as I remember growing up and watching the original with my dad and then discussing the episodes in what it taught us about the past and history. These are really fond memories for me”.

Finally, a discussion around the changing narratives of Asian men on film and television was discussed. Song is an Asian male physicist, who is handsome and who is the main lead of a series which does not focus on talking about his Asian background, but focuses on him as just a regular guy leaping through time.

The only other Asian American male lead right now on network television is Utkarsh Ambudkar on CBS’s Ghosts.

The Outsider" Episode 211 -- Pictured: (l-r) Caitlin Bassett as Addison, Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song --
The Outsider” Episode 211 — Pictured: (l-r) Caitlin Bassett as Addison, Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song — (Photo by: Jordin Althaus:NBC)

“Being an Asian man and being in a lead role, I feel is extremely important. Also I wanted to note that our tagline for the first season was “rewrite history”. That to me speaks in many different ways because it is about highlighting the history which has been erased, forgotten and misunderstood. This is the same thing for Asian men because we have gone through all these motions. Now we should be talking about how awesome we are and how we are the leading men. I don’t take this kind of responsibility on representing lightly because of how important it is”, Lee mentioned.

You can catch season two of Quantum Leap on NBC, and also stream it over Peacock. It closes out the season with a two-hour finale on Tuesday, February 20 at 9/8 central.

Happy Lunar New Year! Time is running out to support our Lunar New Year Fundraising Drive through this link. The campaign ends today. AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. 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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