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‘Kung Fu’: Vanessa Kai Joins the CW Reboot Series

Deadline logo Deadline 9/16/2020 Denise Petski
Vanessa Kai taking a selfie © Courtesy of CLA

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EXCLUSIVE: Vanessa Kai (New Amsterdam) is set as a series regular opposite Olivia Liang in Kung Fu, the CW’s reimagining with a female lead of the 1970s David Carradine-starring TV series, from Christina M. Kim, Martin Gero, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Warner Bros TV.

Written by Kim and inspired by the original series created by Ed Spielman, in the new Kung Fu, a quarter-life crisis causes a young Chinese-American woman, Nicky Shen (Liang), to drop out of college and go on a life-changing journey to an isolated monastery in China. But when she returns to find her hometown overrun with crime and corruption, she uses her martial arts skills and Shaolin values to protect her community and bring criminals to justice — all while searching for the assassin who killed her Shaolin mentor and is now targeting her.

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Kai will play Pei-Ling Zhang, a skilled fighter, spiritual guide, and mentor to Nicky Shen (Liang), one of dozens of monks that lived and trained in an all-female Shaolin temple buried deep in the mountains of Yuanyang province. After her tragic death at the hands of a mysterious assassin, Pei-Ling lives on in Nicky’s memory, evoking the lessons and skills her mentor taught her at the monastery. But as Nicky hunts down Pei-Ling’s murderer, she will discover her beloved Sifu had her own dark secrets… and will learn that Pei-Ling’s past might hold the key to Nicky’s future.

In addition to Liang, Kai joins previously cast Tzi Ma, Kheng Hua Tan, Jon Prasida, Shannon Dang and Eddie Liu.

Kim and Gero executive produce via Gero’s Quinn’s House Production Company, which produces in association with Berlanti Prods. and Warner Bros TV. Berlanti and Schechter executive produce for Berlanti Prods.

Kai’s credits include New Amsterdam, The Blacklist and Orange is the New Black, among others. She’s repped by Harold Lewter and Cyd LeVin at CLA Partners and attorney Julie Feldman at Schreck, Rose, Dapello, Adams, Berlin & Dunham.


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